Molly's tomato soup

I wish I could tell you I came up with this recipe myself, but truly, that's not the case. I borrowed it from Molly, who has a good many recipes worth perusing. But honestly, it's so simple, it's amazing none of us have ever thought of it before.

The occasion for Molly's soup was the last tomatoes of the season, of course. Though her recipe calls for the fruits canned, I had a heap of red, sunny globes, bought on the cheap as the farmers market rode out on the coattails of fall.

They were starting to go—there was a reason for the sale—and I'd purchased many more than an afternoon lunch could take care of. The freezer was already bursting with sauce and the cupboard with jars, and so I turned instead to this hearty fall soup.

The soup pot was ready, spitting hot, when the first onions piled in. With oil and salt, they softened into translucence, and garlic came along. Next fell lipstick peppers and fresh ground black kernels, vietnamese cilantro and another pinch of salt. With base flavors at the ready, it was time to drop in the tomatoes.

They softened slowly at first, red meat crumpling into herbs and oil, the whole mess burping and jumping until it practically leapt from the pot. Finally, the flame hunkered down, and they settled in to simmer. A half hour later, a velvety red liquid emerged: chunky, flecked with green, and absolutely wholesome. With hats off to the fruit, we promised to make another pot just as soon as the season allowed.


(adapted from Molly's recipe, which was adapted from a Martha Stewart Living cutout, April 1995)

Serves 4

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté 1 medium white onion, chopped finely. Add 1 clove garlic, minced, and cook until onions are translucent. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1/4 cup Vietnamese cilantro, torn, (alternatively, you can used chopped cilantro stems, as Molly does), 1 small hot pepper, seeded and minced, 2 pounds tomatoes if chopped fresh, and 28 ounces if canned, and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Let simmer 30 minutes, and enjoy hot with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.

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