I don't usually run my soup musings by Tom. His tastes run toward the conventional--grilled steak, a baked potato and a big salad is his four star meal, and I think he grew up with that meal and never got past it. Mostly he eats vegetarian meals that I make and he likes the end results of my soup projects. Still, I wasn't sure about this one, so I mistakenly asked.
"What do you think of a hummus as a soup base?"
"I don't like it," He'd said immediately.
"What do you mean you don't like it? It's soup with the flavor of hummus. Can't you imagine it?"
"I don't like hummus. Why would I like a soup with hummus?"
Thirty six years and I had no clue the man didn't like hummus. "It's not hummus, it's just the flavor," I insisted. "Can't you just be open to soup?"
"I don't like hummus" he said
"You just don't get cooking," I finally said, "I won't tell you what I'm making anymore."
Okay it's so grade school, but I was suddenly determined to make a soup where he wouldn't notice the hummus and he'd ask for more. That meant I had to use exactly the right ingredients.
What else could I use? I scanned my pantry, then my freezer, where I spotted two containers of dried roasted tomatoes. This was a flavor Tom liked. Score one for me. I got the tomatoes last fall at Ayers Creek Farm and I roasted them in my oven on a low temperature until they were partially dried. Then I frozen these tomatoes in containers.
I removed one of the containers, thawed the tomatoes then chopped them into pieces. I put them in the freezer because oven dried tomatoes have more moisture than dried tomatoes. I'm not sure how they dry them conventionally but they're usually tough and very hard. If you use dried tomatoes from a natural foods store for this, cut the amount of tomatoes in half.
I had a half cup of dry garbanzos or chick peas, also from Ayers Creek Farm last fall, so I cooked them a day ahead. I had saved them in the refrigerator, but Tom took half of them for a morning burrito. I didn't really have enough to make hummus, but I had to make it work.
I got everything ready and realized it would cook a lot faster in my new pressure cooker. Since I got Jill Nussinow's new cookbook, I've been using my pressure cooker for everything.
Here's the recipe:
Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Asparagus
Roasted tomatoes make this soup heavenly and once the smoky asparagus is added, this soup wins over even the loudest hummus critics. While I made the soup, Tom grilled the asparagus for about 7 to 10 minutes.
(Serves 4 to 6)
3 or 4 large spring onions, sliced
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
2 cups roasted dried tomatoes, chopped (Use 1 cup if using prepacked dried organic tomatoes)
1 large potato, washed and diced
1 garnet or jewel yam, washed and diced
6 cups water
1/2 cup cooked or canned garbanzo beans
1/4 cup sesame tahini
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped Mama Lil's peppers or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 to 2 pounds grilled medium-size asparagus
1. Heat the base of the pressure cooker over medium heat and place 3/4 of the onions in the pan. Drizzle canola oil over the onions. Stir and cook until soft and slightly caramelized.
2. Add tomatoes, potato, yam and 5 cups of water. Secure lid, increase heat and bring pressure up to high. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally. Stir to blend the sweet potatoes and tomatoes when done. While tomatoes cook, prepare hummus.
3. Blend garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, and Mama Lil's peppers adding up to 1 cup of water to thin. Blend with the tomato soup. Add more water, if desired and adjust the flavor by adding more lemon, salt, or pepper
4. Cut grilled asparagus into bite size pieces. Stir into the soup, reserving the tops for garnish. Serve as is or with toasted bread crumbs or grated cheese.
"Well? What did you think?" I asked after Tom ate his last spoonful.
"Is there enough for tomorrow?" His hopeful tone gave me the answer.
My theory is this: the sesame and garbanzo flavor of hummus floated into the background and blended with the tomatoes, potato and yam and the acidity balanced because of the sweet tones. The sesame-garbanzo also worked perfectly with the lemon. The peppers as always contribute zing, and where would the world be without zing? The smoky flavor of the asparagus was the cheese in the tamale. Maybe all you really need is crunch.