What I had for dinner:

Tomato and Shiitake Soup

[ Previous ] 17 May 1994 22:54:56 -0400 [   Next   ]

The weather turned cool and I have enough leftovers for several lunches, so it is a perfect time for a soup. I like many soups, but tomato has always been right there at the top (I even like the straight-from-the-tin tomato soup that holds sway in the typical English caffs where I used to patronize during my impecunious camping holidays of ages past).

There were fresh shiitake mushrooms at the market, so this was a quick decision.

In a saucepan, brown half a sliced onion in a little olive oil. Add two chopped habañero peppers. (Folks, this is serious stuff. Wear gloves if you are not sure that your hands can take it. I'm serious, some people can get a very painful experience from careless handling of these peppers.) Cook a couple of minutes, add two thinly sliced cloves of garlic, cook 30 seconds and add one 1 lb can of crushed tomatoes and 1 pint of water. Be careful not to overcook the garlic or it turns bitter, with that awful "cheap trattoria" smell.

Tomatoes are quite sour, so some sweetness is needed to balance it. I added a bay leaf as a foundation, then a tsp of dry tarragon, a tsp of ground coriander, and two blades of lemongrass from the plant on my windowsill. (Lemongrass is a true grass, and as such has cutting leaves. Be careful not to rub them the wrong way. This is turning into a dangerous recipe!)

Cook for 1/2 h. Meanwhile, slice the mushroom heads into strips, wash, drain, and cook in a little oil, and some salt to draw out the moisture. Continue cooking until all the mushroom water has evaporated. Discard the oil. (Otherwise, no dessert!)

Fish out the bay leaf, and blend the tomatoes in a food processor. Strain through a fine sieve (help it along with a spoon), and add to the mushrooms. Adjust the salt to taste and add a little sugar if needed (typically 1/2 to 1 tbsp) to balance the acidity.

Voilà. Serve with lots of crusty bread, and finish with a green salad. And for a reward, for dessert, a Dove bar. I basically do not like ice cream that much, but chocolateness always transcends icecreamness...

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