And with that, I have become Rachael Ray.

If you love me, you’ll hand me the gun.

I realized too late that I should have taken the shots for the blog with my old camera – you know, the one I know how to operate? – and used the new one for test shots as I figure out how it works. But that’s the kind of thing a planner would do, and we all know I’m not a planner because I didn’t figure out what I was making for dinner until dinner was actually done.

I was kind of hoping that I’d bring the camera home, flip through the guide and turn into Matt Armendariz. Let me be frank: we’re all hoping that will happen. You don’t have to say it. I know.

TIP: It doesn’t happen like that and the first picture you take, perhaps you have chosen to spill some cardamom pods artfully across the cutting board, will look like an army of beetles plotting their nighttime reconnaissance.  Your next picture will be TOTALLY black, and the one after that will look like you’re standing on the surface of the sun.  Then you’ll think you broke something. And then you’ll cave and go to auto-focus mode.

Plus, the guide is, like, 117 pages long and I’m only on page 35. I did take some photos of the dog hair embedded in the carpet while I was laying on the couch about to pass out from reading the tiny type in the guide. Damn, those were some clear pictures. Also? My carpet is fucking disgusting. At least I know now. If only I had a vacuum, but I spent all my money on the camera.

So we have all these vegetables from the CSA, plus all the tomatoes and jalapenos that are coming up in the yard despite the fact that we’ve been away and / or crazy every weekend, neglecting the backyard and allowing the morning glories to strangle every vaguely vertical surface. I feel bad about letting the CSA vegetables go to rot, seeing as how I’ve already paid for them, but I feel somewhat worse about the home-grown veg. Like, I forced them to grow up in this troubled home; the least I could do is make sure they meet their intended destiny.

I had this vague idea of tomato soup, and some kind of pesto with three kinds of basil (we have Genovese, African purple, which FYI grows to a height and diameter of four to five feet if you don’t use it because you’re worried that pesto made with vaguely purple basil will come out the color of poop, and Thai) and some kind of garlic-rubbed crusty bread and fresh mozzarella. Like tomato soup and grilled cheese, except not quite. Because it wasn’t quite 100 degrees out yet, so I figured soup was a good bet. What? You think no?

Don’t worry, because I didn’t do any of those things except the soup. Even that turned out nothing like what I’d planned.

I sent Brian into the hoary wilderness of the backyard (did I mention it’s also filled with dog shit?) in search of the tomatoes; he returned with a bowl of Romas, a few Rutgers, two jalapenos and one poblano that’s been on the plant for three weeks without growing a single iota.

Doing some rapid mental calculations, I sent him to the store for cilantro (none in the garden, that shit bolts like bolting is about to be made a Class A felony), pepper quesadilla cheese and limes. I halved the tomatoes, sprinkled them with salt and olive oil, turned the AC down to 55, turned the oven up to 450 on the convection setting and roasted for as long as I could before the entire house started to fill with steam, causing condensation to drip down the walls.

For the actual soup, I chucked the somewhat dessicated love apples* into a blender with a splash of stock and cream, blended them up and ran them through a strainer. While I was in the fridge grabbing the cream I noticed a zucchini that was about to lose in overtime; I diced it and threw it into the hot-ish tomato mixture to “cook.” It was really more like a very mild un-rawing than cooking; I guess that’s what cooking technically is, but I still hesitate to call this that. Voila! Strange tomato soup.

For as long as I was able to hold the knife – I need to get one with a white handle for really hot days – I diced the jalapenos and cilantro and mixed them quickly with some lime juice, salt and olive oil. Voila! Soup topping

Pepper cheese + tortillas left from last Tuesday + hot pan = simple quesadillas. Voila! Grilled cheese sandwich stand-in.

*Hee hee.**

**Because that sounds dirty.

Strange tomato soup, when mixed with the jalapeno-cilantro-lime topper, becomes gazpacho-esque. Actually, it becomes better than gazpacho, although I might just be saying that because I don’t like gazpacho all that much (or rather, have never had a really good one). The tomatoes’ sweetness is intensified by the roasting, but since you don’t do it for very long they retain their garden-fresh taste. The zucchini’s crunch does mellow out in the warm soup but not too much, and the jalapeno lime just ZINGs!.

I know that’s not really a word meant to be used in that fashion, but it really is the most apt description. Just close your eyes, picture yourself sitting down to a bowl of very garden-fresh soup and ZING! See? And when you bite into a bit of jalapeno that still has some rib or a seed, which you’ve left in to give things some bite, there’s a cheesy quesadilla to settle things back down.

There is the whole extremely-hot-oven in the middle of the summer thing, but that’s somewhat negated by the fact that this all takes about 25 minutes to throw together. The soup is filled with super-fresh vegetables. It will make you burp and/or rip a good one, depending from which end you usually eject excess gas, but it’s a healthy ripper.

Really, the worst part of the whole process is when you try to take a picture of the fucking thing and you just. Can’t. Do it. And you don’t have the presence of mind to get ONE DECENT shot with the old camera because you’re convinced you can do it, because didn’t you accidentally-on-purpose take a picture with perfect shallow depth of field this morning, with your husband’s toe in the foreground and your dog in the background?

But you can’t. Ergo, excuse to make this soup again. Although “excuse” will seem more like “necessity” when the next batch of tomatoes comes in.

Not-Gazpacho for 2
4-6 plum/Roma tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 c. chicken or veggie stock
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 small zuccchini
2 small jalapenos
2 limes
1 bunch cilantro

Pre-heat the oven to 450.

Cut the tomatoes in half.  Put them on a baking sheet skin side down, drizzle with oil and sprinkle liberally with salt (preferably kosher). Roast for 15 minutes until they have softened but not dried out.

Put the cooked tomatoes in a blender with the stock and cream. Blend until smooth, then run finished puree through a fine mesh strainer. Dice the raw zucchini and mix it into the tomato base. Check for seasoning, be liberal with the black pepper.

For the topper, de-seed the finely mince the jalapenos. Finely chop 1/4 cup of cilantro. Squeeze both limes over and add a smidge of olive oil. Mix.  Reserve some unchopped cilantro for garnish.

To serve, split soup between 2 bowls, spoon a few teaspoons of jalapeno-lime mix on, mix in, and eat.

You can scale this way up, and use any veg you want for the soup as long as it can cope with this treatment (other summer squash, cukes, etc).

[tags]food, recipes, cooking, soup, tomatoes, gazpacho, jalapeno, cilantro, lime[/tags]