Tomato Zuppa

Soundtrack to this recipe: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 7, 2011

Zuppie Zuppa

My dad has this teeny tiny basil plant that his coworker gave him a couple of weeks ago that I noticed out of the corner of my eye when we were eating dinner on Thursday night a few hours after I landed. I thought it was one of my brother’s ex-more-pathetic-science experiments since he was crazy about growing mung beans using different types of water-preserving soils during Christmas last year, which was the last time I visited home. It looked so sad and pitiful with three tiny leaves whimpering on the stalk. Apparently my dad hadn’t had the chance to water it in about two weeks.

So for the last three days I’ve been trying to revive it because I’m a firm believer in “not dead until it’s dead,” but I think I have to give up because the poor little guy doesn’t want to be saved. It’s just upsetting because it takes so long to grow anything from a handful of seeds and you can’t tell how or whether they’ll turn out; sometimes you wish you could just save what you have.

I’d been looking forward to making some homemade marinara for pasta for my family, but I wasn’t about to rob a dying plant of its last leaves. After a heavy lunch out with both sets of grandparents I wanted something light for dinner, so I decided to make a pit stop and get some basil for a roasted tomato basil soup instead of sauce for pasta–which isn’t to say I didn’t eat my full share of Garden of Eatin’ chili lime tortilla chips afterward. In a more perfect, hungrier state I would have made a grilled cheese on sourdough to go with my soup.

Out of the oven

This is an easy recipe–you can add heavy cream to make it creamy or add vegetable stock, or you can add neither and have pasta sauce. To serve 2, you’ll need 6-7 roma tomatoes, a bulb of garlic, four or five basil leaves, salt, pepper, and some extra virgin olive oil. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Halve and de-seed the tomatoes and place them skin side down on a roasting pan. Cut a sliver off the top of the garlic so that the tops are exposed. Drizzle some olive oil over them and season with salt and pepper. Roast them for about 20-25 minutes. When done, peel the garlic and toss everything into the blender, including the basil leaves. Some people might prefer to peel the skins off the tomatoes too, but I don’t mind them. Salt and add liquid to taste.

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