TOMATO SOUPY SAUCE
Halfway between a soup and a sauce with multiple uses. It’s one of those rare sauces that totally consumes your attention while consuming it. No matter if used for dipping, for saucing potatoes, pasta or rice or as a soup, it’s not easily forgotten!
Makes about 17 cups
Saute the ramps: (optional)
1 bunch fresh ramps – wash and trim as you would scallions
1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Slice white parts of ramps thinly and green parts into 1/2 inch wide pieces.
Heat skillet to very hot, add oil, salt and pepper, followed by ramps. Saute quickly, moving them about the pan, charring them in spots, then remove from heat, transfer to plate and set aside till ready to add to the soupy sauce.
Tomato, Red Pepper and Garlic Blend:
28 oz. can San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes or comparable whole peeled plum tomatoes
12 oz. jar sweet red roasted peppers including liquid from jar
1 whole bulb garlic cloves, peeled
Remaining Soup Ingredients:
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
32 oz. carton Vegetable Culinary Broth – I used Heinen’s brand
28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes including liquid
28 oz. can tomato puree
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 c. carrot juice
2 c. V-8 vegetable juice or tomato juice
2 T. salt or to taste
fresh ground black pepper as wanted
2 T. finely ground fennel seed
2 T. ground coriander
1/4 c. dried tarragon
2-3 t. dried oregano
1 rounded t. whole dried cloves wrapped in 3 layers cheesecloth, tied tightly with string, then trimmed with scissors like a little jewel pouch, or use approx. 1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground allspice
1 lg. thumb-size fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into very thin planks, stacked, cut into very thin sticks, then cut crosswise into tiny cubes
2 T. white or mellow miso paste
2 t. guar gum powder for thickener
2 T. agave syrup – for sweetener
2 T. mild flavored, light-colored sesame oil – I use Roland brand
1 c. fresh basil leaves, moderately packed and sliced into strips
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the ramps then set them aside.
In blender container combine peeled tomatoes with liquid from can, roasted peppers with liquid from jar and garlic cloves. Blend on high-speed till smooth as it gets.
In extra-large soup pot, over medium high heat, add Tomato, Red Pepper and Garlic Blend plus Remaining Soup Ingredients up to and including white/mellow miso paste.
Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.
Sprinkle guar gum powder on top of sauce, then immediately whisk into top layer of sauce till completely dissolved, then whisk deeper into sauce till thickened.
Add agave syrup, sesame oil, fresh basil. Stir well, then cook over low heat about 1/2 hour longer.
Add sauteed ramps remoive from heat and salt and pepper the pot to taste.
Serve as a dipping sauce for homemade French baquette sticks, or a sauce over pan-fried potatoes, pasta or rice. Or serve as a soup.
Stores and reheats nicely. No loss in flavors or textures.
Notes: Okay, so what are ramps? Never heard of them, till Steve brought them home from the market, but it seems many other chefs have and love them. It is written that perhaps the reason these baby leeks are so revered is that they’re foraged and have a short growth life. They appear in the early spring as one of the first edible plants of the growing season in Eastern North America.
Unlike scallions, the leaves are broad and nontubular, and some claim them to be grittier than adult leeks, but mine were exceptionally clean. One reason I don’t use leeks, is that it is nearly impossible to remove all the grit from them. At about twenty dollars a pound, I probably won’t use them again given that I didn’t see, taste or feel what all the positive energy surrounding the acquisition of baby leeks was all about.
Soaking them in the tomato sauce creates a soft-spongy chew – different from what you might expect from a scallion or a leek. They also impart a slight gelatinous texture to the sauce, which helps with the smooth.