It is difficult to imagine, while you are longing for the first summer tomato to ripen. But there comes a time, particularly if you have a garden, or subscribe to a CSA farmbox, that you may struggle to keep up with the ripe tomatoes. Perhaps you have had plenty of delicious ratatouille and BLTs (the latter a great classic of American cuisine, if you ask me). If you are looking for something nice, and easy, to do with them, permit me to suggest this one dish summer meal. You can use up those tomatoes that are nearly over the top and splitting , and get cleared away for next week's bunch of just-ripe ones.
You might think that a summer soup supper will make you too hot, but it won't, I promise. You do have to serve this dish hot, or at least warm, but the ripe tomato taste really comes through and it is very comfortable. It is rather porridgey in texture. I like it with some crispy herb toasts, and a glass of wine or a cool drink. You will save yourself from the heat by making nearly the whole supper on top of the stove, possibly earlier in the day when it is cooler; it will keep a few days in the fridge, just prior to the last step.
This soup is satisfying and filling, without being stodgy. It is as effortless to eat as it is to cook, which may also help keep you cool. If you are dining alone, you will have no problem reading your book and eating this at the same time. I use my serrated peeler on the tomatoes and pepper, so there is not even any blanching involved.
This is really more or less a classic peasant dish, but my version is adapted from the very nice one in Soups, Stews and One Pot Meals by Tom Valenti. I'm afraid it isn't terribly photogenic (as is often the case with soup), but it may just be the supper you want.
This is what you need:
2 lbs of very ripe tomatoes, the large beefsteak type are very good for this (peeled and chopped, save juice)
4 oz of parmagiana, grated, save rind
chopped red onion, small
1/2 chopped green pepper (preferably peeled if you can)
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups bread, cubed
1 qt veg stock, homemade or nice supermarket type in box
This is what you do: You chop the peeled tomatos into one inch cubes, and put them in a bowl with some salt and pepper. You let them sit there for about half an hour. Meanwhile, saute the onion and green pepper in a bit of olive oil until soft, add the tomato paste, mix it up well and cook for a couple of minutes. In with the broth and tomatoes and parm rind. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer 30 to 40 minutes. Fish out the rind. Add the bread cubes, moosh it up with your big spoon, and cook down for about 15 minutes. At your discretion, you can break it up a bit more with an immersion blender, but don't make it too smooth.
If you are going to eat this later, refrigerate it now, and reheat before proceeding. Add grated cheese and heat until it is melted in and incorporated, and the thickness you desire. Serve with the rest of the cheese to sprinkle on top, something crisp in the way of bread or crouton, and a bit of pesto or fresh basil if you want to. Summer comfort food.
Extra Tomato Addendum (in the manner of Hints from Heloise, the now defunct household advice column I followed eagerly as an unnatural child)- Did you know that you can: Make oven roasted tomatoes out of the orphaned, wilted leftovers from last night's pretty platter of sliced tomatoes? Just put the limp oil, vinegar and basil dressed tomatoes directly onto your baking sheet. Cook in a 325F oven for about an hour, or until they get to your preferred level of roastedness. These can be used in all manner of recipes calling for oven roasted tomatoes and taste just as nice as the roast tomatoes you start from scratch. They are a tasty dish on their own, mixed up with crumbled feta and pepper.