Wednesday Night Soup: Tomato-Basil Bisque

Ithaca is about soup. Well, that’s not the whole story, but soup plays an important role in the book. I’ll let Daisy, the main character, explain:

I should explain about Wednesday nights. It started when Arthur was new at the university, new and assigned grad students. It had been my idea for him to get to know his students outside of school, off campus. I had suggested they come over for supper. And so they did and so they devoured the food I made them. And no one suspected how young I was. We invited them back and soon it became a standing date in our calendar. They brought their girlfriends and then their wives. Sometimes Arthur’s colleagues would come too. When Nick was a toddler, he loved having the students over, loved the energy of the house.

Eventually it drifted away from any affiliation with the school and it just became Wednesday night. I made pots and pots of soup, a different kind each week. I stocked up on bowls and spoons at garage sales and estate sales, mismatched bowls. You might get a bone china bowl or a wobbly earthenware bowl made in someone’s pottery craze.

Each of the chapters in Ithaca has a soup title, one that corresponds both with the food Daisy serves on Wednesday night and with some of what’s happening in her life. Each week this fall–on Wednesdays, of course–I’m going to post an original soup recipe, developed by me on Daisy’s behalf. The recipes are all vegetarian at heart. Like the mismatched bowls, the recipes are also imperfect: I’m no recipe developer. Feel free to add, subtract, modify–and tell us what you did to make the recipe better. I just realized also that I don’t suggest how many servings each recipe will make. That may depend on the size of your bowls anyhow. Each recipe should serve at least four people–or one really hungry teenager.

This is a nice comfort food kind of soup for a cold, gray day like today. If you’ve got lots of last tomatoes from your garden, feel free to substitute them for the canned tomatoes.

Tomato-Basil Bisque
Saute 5 Tbsp butter with 1 onion,diced. When softened, stir in 4 Tbsp flour and 2 (28 oz) cans of tomatoes. Add a pinch each of fresh dill and oregano. Stir in 6 c. of vegetable (or chicken) stock and bring almost to a boil. Add 3 Tbsp honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat to simmer. Add a small handful of fresh basil, diced and ¾ c. cream (or coconut cream).

Today is Ithaca’s release day. Let’s all celebrate by raising a soup spoon! Or by reading the book.

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