by Allen Burris
Many of us eat tomatoes regularly, but do we know the journey that this simple food took to reach our plates? It was first cultivated in South and Central America and later taken to Europe. It was grown strictly for ornamental purposes, as many believed it was poisonous. However, it began to gain favor with the poor in Italy, especially once it got slapped onto a flat piece of bread topped with cheese. When European immigrants came to America, they brought their tomato recipes with them. In 1897, Joseph Campbell helped it gain popularity with his newly condensed tomato soup. The tomato had finally found a home here in the United States, after traveling around the world to get here. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NIV) I am at a place in my life that I am happy and content. However, I’ve experienced a lot of pain and rejection in my journey. Every experience, both good and bad, has played a role in shaping my life. Like the tomato, it feels like I’ve gone around the world just to find my place. I had my plans, but thankfully God, established my steps instead. May you, too, be like the tomato.
So, now you know Whatcha Cookin’.
· Two 14.5 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
· 32 oz. tomato juice
· One large onion
· 2-3 tsp. fresh minced garlic
· One cup heavy whipping cream
· ½ stick sweet unsalted butter
· 5 oz. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
· 12-15 leaves of fresh basil
(If you wish, you can use extra leaves to garnish)
· Sea salt & ground white pepper (or black pepper) for taste
Slice the onion and heat ¼ stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat until caramelized. Add the minced garlic just before the onions are done.
Place onion, garlic, tomatoes and basil in blender, then puree.
Add to a large pot along with the tomato juice, cream and remaining butter and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.
As the soup begins to bubble, reduce heat to simmer and add 3 oz. of cheese. Add slowly and stir constantly to avoid clumping.
Once the cheese is melted and blended, the soup is done. Cup the soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining cheese and fresh basil.