Tomato soup an autumn highlight

Cooking for Two

Farm stand's last vegetables recall comforts of youth

Sunday Gourmet

October 26, 2003|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Tribune Media Services

As a child, one of my favorite dishes was cream of tomato soup with crushed soda crackers. To be properly enjoyed, the soup had to be scalding hot and saturated with big cracker chunks. I loved the complementary and contrasting tastes and textures: sweet and salty, creamy and chewy.

I'm still crazy about tomato soup. But now I usually make my own because I prefer a chunky mixture of vegetables and want seasonings that are more sophisticated than what I'd get with a canned product.

This is the perfect time for homemade tomato soup. The crisp temperatures and the last of the season's farm-stand tomatoes are all the excuse you need to start chopping tomatoes. But if vine-ripened tomatoes aren't available -- or if you prefer to wait until winter -- you can still make a delicious soup with a base of canned tomatoes. Contrary to what you might think, tomato soup is easy and quick to prepare.

Fresh (or canned) tomatoes don't require a long cooking time to develop their flavor. Add some tasty bacon and paprika, and you have a soup with a robust and smoky taste in less than 30 minutes.

And if you, like me, have graduated from crushed crackers, try wedges of flour tortillas topped with Asiago cheese and baked briefly in a 375-degree oven.

Autumn Tomato Soup

Serves 2

3 strips thick bacon

1 ear fresh corn or 1/2 cup canned or frozen corn

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced

2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced or 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (10 3/4 -ounce) can chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

salt, pepper

Dice bacon and brown in a medium saucepan. Remove bacon, retaining pan drippings. Cut corn kernels from the cob. Add corn kernels and diced bell pepper to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Add bacon. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

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