TOMATO SOUP.

For a while now I’ve been advocating that the Spill could expand to be more adventurous than just a music blog. After Zala’s painting success I tried photos, dead flop, no one came. So how about food? Everyone likes food, right?
So here’s a very simple and topical recipe that anyone can try; since we’re all in the middle of a tomato glut, at least I am.
I don’t know what I did wrong/right this year but we’re deluged with tomatoes just now in a way that’s never happened before and there’s only so many that two people can eat.
Just about every day I pick about 10+ lbs of fresh tomatoes, whatever we do there’s always that amount sitting on the kitchen counter, almost all Brandywine heirlooms, the best tasting tomato in the world, bar none! Gina gave me an ultimatum, NO MORE TOMATOES, she’d canned/salsa-ed and preserved enough to feed the the 5,000! And yet they kept coming and they will continue to keep coming, there’s many dozens still on the vines!
So today I decided to try something, Tomato Soup. It’s very simple, takes about 15 -20 minutes.

I always use peeled tomatoes in anything I cook, it’s just a thing about not liking tomato skins in food, so let’s begin by peeling the tomato’s.
It’s very simple, start with a saucepan of boiling water, have another of cold water in the sink. Add your tomatoes to the boiling water and keep an eye on them, depending on size within about 2-3 minutes you’ll see the skin begin to split; quickly scoop them out and into the cold water! With an apple corer scoop out the top stem, If your timing was right the entire skin should just fall away, if not, poke at it.
You’ll get a feel for the timing fairly quickly, if you leave them in the boiling water too long they’ll become soggy and cooked, too short, more difficult to peel, work at it.
Once you have a quantity of peeled tomatoes quarter them and set them aside.
Peel and slice half an onion and chop small. Saute it in a saucepan in olive oil ’til soft, add the quartered tomatoes and any spices that you think necessary plus some chicken, broth; I use organic and for 10+ lbs I used less than a quart. I add about a half teaspoon of very hot African peppers, it doesn’t make it hot but gives a lovely warm afterglow.
Let it sit.
In another saucepan melt about 3/4 of a stick of butter, when melted begin to add flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time with constant stirring with a whisk.
Keep adding until it gets very stiff and then add a ladle of tomato juice, stir ’til smooth and then add some more juice, keep going until it’s a creamy thick paste and then add it back to the original.
You’ll have a wonderful rich tomato soup much better than anything you ever bought from Heinz! Give it a few stirs and let it cool ’til the spouse/significant other/sweetheart comes home at 5 o’clock. He/she will think that you’re absolutely fabulous and will offer to type your impending cook book for you. Have a baguette at hand.
As they/she says, bon appetit! Enjoy and feel free to improvise freely, I did.

The English Market, Cork

There was no water, but the fountain was still very pretty

Last Friday, after I’d checked into my hotel in Cork, I went for a bit of a wander round the town until it was time to start looking for the venue for the gig, and I discovered the English Market. (That’s ‘discovered’ in the sense of Columbus discovering America, of course, since lots of people already knew it was there.) It’s a covered market that somehow winds its way behind the ordinary shops – there are at least 3 entrances that I found and there may well be a few more. And it’s a place of many gustatory delights.

Bread stall in the English Market

I didn’t buy anything that first day, even though there was a man on one of the stalls frying potatoes, which looked lovely, and a sign behind him saying Potatoes and Sausage 4 Euros. But I had had such a huge breakfast in the Dublin hotel that morning that I really wasn’t hungry. I knew I was only going to get a ‘mini breakfast’ at the Cork hotel the next day so I decided to come back to the market after that – there would be time for a second breakfast before I caught the bus to the airport. Instead I went in search of the venue, which doesn’t have much of an internet presence (for instance, there’s no map showing it), and was surprised when I found it that there was no queue there yet, although it was 3 o’clock by then; so I started one, and was subsequently interviewed by the local radio station and achieved my aim of being leant on the barrier immediately below TP’s mic when the gig started. But I’m not talking about the gig here, of course. This is about the market.

The next morning I found that the hotel’s definition of a mini breakfast wasn’t the same as mine and I was once again not hungry when I turned up mid-morning at the English Market again. I had hoped that my appetite would’ve returned, but it hadn’t, so the potato and sausage man had no business from me. I bought some white chocolate buttons from the chocolate man, though, and sat down in the cafe with a coffee till it was bus time…Incidentally the coffee I had in Ireland was (nearly all) wonderful, even the kind provided by Aer Lingus.

Though there were stalls with all sorts of food in the market, the majority were of interest to carnivores only, especially fans of chicken and fish. (They didn’t even have that much fish in Kirkcudbright!)

Tripe and burgers

Several of the stalls had tripe. On this one there were also ready-battered burgers. I was not sorry to have to leave both those things behind. I walked along to St Patrick’s Quay and sat down at the bus stop, only to find I’d left the chocolate buttons in the cafe. Well, they’re bad for you anyway. And at the airport they had Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

At the bus stop