It is the ultimate late summer dish. It means that school children across the country are sharpening their pencils and filling their backpacks with new supplies in anticipation of a brand new year. It means the crisp, cool air of fall is just around the corner. It means the mountain behind my house will soon turn brilliant shades of red, gold, orange, and yellow. It means that in a few short weeks, my backyard neighbor will soon be exposing his long, silver chest hair to the chilly winter air while sitting in his hot tub, smoking a cigar, in plain view of my toddler's bedroom window.
It is my dad's cream of tomato soup.
Step 1: Go outside and pick a bunch of luscious, red tomatoes off the vine. After washing them and slicing off their stems, stick them in a blender and puree the living guts out of them. You're shooting for about 3 cups of tomato puree.
Step 2: Start a roux using olive oil and flour, then add 2-3 cups of milk. Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat the tomato puree, along with some dried basil. Bring to a boil for a couple minutes.
Step 3: (the most critical step!) Allow both mixtures to cool slightly. If you add the acidic tomato to the base of milk too early, the whole thing will curdle. Yuck.
Step 4: Whisk the tomato puree into the milk mixture and reheat to a simmer.
Step 5: Add salt and pepper to taste. (Brace yourself. It might be a lot of salt and pepper.)
Step 6: Enjoy with other seasonal favorites, such as peaches or corn on the cob. Happy autumn!