My husband Jason hates my food mill. My director of operations, Nancy, hates my food mill. Jonathan Schenck, who used to help me with recipe testing and now lives at a safe distance in St. Louis, Missouri, also hates my food mill. Specifically, they hate to wash it.
I, however, love my food mill. By pressing food through the holes of a disk, it creates a delicate purée, leaving the coarse, fibrous bits behind. That means I can boil potatoes for mashing or stew down apples for sauce without any peeling.
I see this as a compound victory. First, I’m lazy and believe peeling is best relegated to corporal punishment. Secondly, if I want a smooth creamy soup, I just don’t want the tough fibers of asparagus or thick skins of tomatoes in my bowl — even if the food processor or blender chops them down into really tiny pieces.
This week I was developing a recipe for Panang curry coconut cream of tomato soup. (You’d get this creative too if you had to come up with a new recipe every single Saturday of the 15 week-long farm market tomato season. By mid September, it’s not inspiration, it’s desperation.) Matt, who (expertly) photographs my food, suggested, “you’ll need the food mill.”
With a beatific smile, I replied, “yes.”
Nancy, who records the recipes and my husband Jason, who plays Words-With-Friends from the couch in the next room, both scowled. “Matt gets to wash it,” they said in unison. I’m hoping Matt doesn’t up-and-move to St. Louis. I’d miss his mad-photography skills.
I’m also hoping that Jason and Nancy don’t mail my food mill to Jonathan Schenck. I’d miss them too.
Penang Curry Coconut Cream of Tomato Soup
Penang Curry adds wonderful complexity and just the right back of the palate heat to tomato soup creating a fun new partner for your grilled cheese or pad Thai.
- 2 tbs peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5 large tomatoes, cored and cut into 6 wedges each
- 2 tbs Panang curry paste
- 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7oz)
- Rice wine vinegar
- 4 whole sprigs plus 1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro or thinly, slivered makrut lime leaf*
*There is a growing effort to retire the name kaffir lime for it’s racist connotations in some cultures. I like how “makrut” sounds and the taste and perfume remains delicate and exotic.
- Warm 1 tbs oil over medium heat in a 3-4 quart soup pot.
Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, cover and cook 10-15 min until very soft.
Process soup in a food mill. If using a blender or food processor, pass the purée through a fine mesh sieve.
- Return pan to medium heat with remaining tbs of oil. Add curry paste and cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Add coconut milk and cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomato puree and cilantro sprigs. Simmer and reduce to desired consistency. I like mine thinner, like a Bloody Mary mix, rather than canned soup, coat-the-back-of-a-spoon thick.
- Season soup to taste with a splash of vinegar, salt and pepper.
Serve with minced cilantro.