I can’t think of a better way to start making soup—especially one to enjoy with Herb-and-Salt Sourdough Focaccia—than to open the freezer and dig through its contents. Almost all of my soup recipes begin this way. Although you can go to the store for fresh ingredients, winter produce can’t compete with the flavor of summer’s harvest, especially if the vegetables grew in or just a few miles from your backyard.
Not only do such soups taste better, but you can make them on a whim without leaving the house. They come together quickly enough for a weeknight meal, and leftovers can be even more delicious than the original round. Here’s what I grab to make this soup; as you plan next season’s garden or farmers’ market visits, think about gathering a similar stash.
I start with homegrown onions, either cured and stored fresh or grilled, chopped and frozen shortly after harvest. Next comes the garlic: I store whole heads of cured fresh garlic but roast several at a time to keep in my refrigerator, ready to use.
The potatoes were also cured after harvest and live all winter in an old lidless ice chest, covered with a towel that keeps light out. The potatoes act as both a main ingredient and a thickener in this soup, so there’s no need to make a roux.
I grab the final key ingredients, tomatoes and stock, from the freezer. Cherry-sized and other small tomatoes are some of the easiest vegetables to freeze: a quick wash, pop them in a bag and you’re done. You can put still-frozen tomatoes (and onion) straight in the soup pot. By the time the potatoes cook, they’ll have defrosted. Frozen Homemade Vegetable Stock can take a little too long to defrost this way, so I start heating it in a separate saucepan before assembling the soup.
Tomato, Potato and Garlic Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 head roasted garlic, peeled and smashed
1 pound potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced (about 2-1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound frozen cherry or larger tomatoes
5-1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes, until it softens. Add the garlic and potatoes, tossing to mix. Sprinkle in the paprika and thyme. Sauté for five minutes, stirring, until the potatoes begin to cook.
Add the tomatoes and stock. Bring the soup to a simmer and then cooked, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until the potato slices split when pierced with a fork.
Break up the potatoes slightly with a large spoon. Stir in the wine, salt and pepper to taste; simmer for another five minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Turn off the heat and let the soup stand, covered, for another 10 minutes before ladling it into bowls.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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