Rustic Tomato Soup and Homemade Bread
Labor Day has come and gone, and – in Nebraska at least – taken summer with it. Fall is making its too early – in my opinion – appearance with cooler evenings, changing leaves and the need to wear my cardigans because it’s cold, not just because they match my outfit.
One of the few redeeming qualities of fall, aside from football (Go Gators!) is the ability to sit outside at high noon and not melt into a puddle due to the heat.
I’m trying to think of other redeeming qualities, but I’m not coming up with much.
Oh wait! Apples. I like in-season apples. Those are pretty darned good. And I guess, once I get thinking about it, I’m a fan of being able to use my oven and stovetop again without blowing out a fuse on my air conditioner.
And, to be honest, the use of my oven and stovetop were actually pretty instrumental in my latest installment of the #LetsLunch bunch posts: a fall picnic menu that can be enjoyed in the non-blistering heat while gazing about at the first signs of changing leaves and boys playing football. (note: be sure to check out the list of other #LetsLunch posts at the end of this post)
For the menu, I landed on Bread and Tomato Soup, and Homemade White Bread with a side of Tuscan Bean Spread.
In putting together this menu, I also wanted to try at least one new recipe and put my bag of tomatoes to work. I accomplished both of those goals and had time and patience and hope enough to make one more recipe.
The new-to-me recipe was Homemade Bread from the trusty Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book, 12th Edition. I’ve made Parker House Rolls before under the watchful eye of my Mom and Dranny, but never loaves of bread on my own. I gotta say… It was kind of fun. First, there’s the stress relief factor of kneading the dough. But, more to my liking, there’s the challenge of whether or not all the ingredients – especially the yeast – will all come together to make something edible.
In my case, the final product was delicious. However, I don’t think the bread rose enough because it’s came out a little denser than I think it should have been. My number one theory of what went wrong is that I didn’t set it in a warm enough space for the first rising. For the second rising, I set the loaves to be on the stove top as the oven was heating up. I think that helped.
To use up all of my tomatoes, I made Bread and Tomato Soup from Recipes of an Italian Summer, my first time using this cookbook. I love tomato soups, and this was a nice change from my usual Tomato Basil Soup. I loved the simplicity of this soup. Simmering tomatoes with a handful of seasonings in water, using day-old bread to thicken it up and cheese and a bit of basil to round out the flavor.
My counsel to those making a soup of simmered down, but not pureed, tomatoes is to pass on the yellow tomatoes. Not because of a taste issue, but because when they cook down for an hour or so, they lose their color and aren’t nearly as pretty as the orange and red tomates in the mix.
Last, but not least, I made a Tuscan Bean Spread I’ve made before. Good stuff that’s great on slices of bread and – as I discovered by accident – stirred into your Bread and Tomato Soup for an extra spoonful of flavor.
On a closing note, I’d like to point out a couple of things.
*First: Check out my picnic table cloth! If you read Martha Stewart, then you know she did a whole article on kitschy linen maps in the July issue. I also like to think of this as a mini-homage to Susan and Lesley over at Marthable.
Second: I was actually going to have a stinking fall picnic. I even bought containers to tote my soup along and dug-out my picnic-worthy plates and silver. And, wouldn’t you know it, it rained just as we were ready to head out. Great. Just freaking great. Oh well. We moved the picnic indoors, stayed dry and enjoyed the goodies without having to deal with grass-stained picnic tablecloths.
For those of you interested in meeting other #LetsLunch bloggers, here are some links to their Fall Picnics:
A Tiger in the Kitchen: Braised Pork Belly Sandwiches
Blog Well Done: Pumpkin Subs
Bon Vivant: Tomato and Cheese
Cowgirl Chef: Fig-Walnut Pesto with Honey
Free Range Cookies: Caramel Apple Scones
ShowFood Chef: Torta al Testa and Love Italy
More to come as more of the #LetsLunch bunch posts their recipes today!