Thursday, February 2, 2017

Welcome Home, Real Tomatoes

Basil and Tomato Soup
I just read that tomatoes may be getting their flavor back!  This probably sounds odd to anyone under 30, who may well assume that tomatoes are used in salads and sandwiches mostly for their color.

Those who’ve eaten “heirloom tomatoes” may have some idea of the way this fruit—yes, tomatoes are a fruit--used to taste.  But even heirloom tomatoes—the name refers to tomatoes eaten in the good old days—don’t always taste very good.

The problem started decades ago when plant scientists began experimenting with tomato genes.  They wanted to create a tomato that resisted diseases and traveled well between field and table. 

They were quite successful.  Tomatoes gradually became heartier and supermarkets became happier.  
Somewhere along the way, though, tomatoes started losing their taste.  Today it’s nearly impossible to find one worth eating, unless you grew it yourself.  And that may not be the solution because you may be buying tomato plants or seeds bred for good storage rather than for good eating.

According to Science Magazine, we won’t be getting the flavor back any time soon, unfortunately.  Meanwhile, try this recipe for Tomato Basil Soup, which includes enough additions to the tomato base to make it worth the effort.
Basil and Tomato Soup – serves 4-6 
3 15-ounce cans cut tomatoes in tomato juice 
1/4 cup butter 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
1 cup heavy cream 
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves 
Add tomatoes, their juice, butter and black pepper to a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes.  Add the cream and basil.  Using an immersion hand blender or regular blender, blend the soup until it is smooth.  Serve immediately or let cool and reheat when ready to serve.
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