Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

This is the last weekend of summer (so says the calendar), and it’s still pretty hot. At least the days are. The nights have been breezy and temperate – pretty much perfect. Right now a light air is blowing in through my living room window, my dog is snuggled up next to me on the couch, I’m noodling with the crossword and listening to Good Food on the radio. I’m also contemplating what to do with my newest batch of Ryan’s tomatoes. Incidentally, the current topic on Good Food is, literally, what to do with all those tomatoes! It’s one of those cosmic muffin moments.

I love to make lists. I make lists for everything under the sun. I even add things to to-do lists after I’ve accomplished them, just so I can cross them out. So to take advantage of this consummate moment I find myself compelled to make a list of a few (25) of my favorite things (in no particular order).

* Extremely stinky cheeses
* The Chateau Marmont
* Friend of the Night, by Mogwai
* Oysters, on the half shell
* Maldon sea salt
* Sea Urchin
* Rueben’s martini at Musso & Frank
* Grilled octopus with potatoes, celery and lemon at Osteria Mozza
* My watch
* The Wire, in marathon-watching mode
* Suzanne Goin’s heirloom tomato salad with torn croutons and opal basil
* Chocolate Haagen Dazs ice cream
* Film Noir
* Cadbury Crème eggs
* My mom’s laugh
* Brander Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley
* Movie theater popcorn with an inordinate amount of salt

I know I have mentioned, previously, my love of soup and my love of tomatoes. I’d say, with the aforementioned radio show topic, my question regarding what to do with my tomato riches has been answered. It’s kismet. It’s a tomato soup.

I have served this soup, both, hot and cold, and I think it works, just as well, either way. It pairs absolutely perfectly with one of my favorite wines, the Brander Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley.

The croutons are a lot of fun and quite good on their own as an appetizer.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Serves 4

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
3 pounds ripe summer tomatoes (4 cups chopped)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
½ cup heavy cream

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook just until tomatoes are falling apart, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil, and remove from heat.

Let cool slightly. Transfer tomato mixture to a blender. Make sure to really get a good puree. If your blender is not powerful enough you may want to use a food mill to achieve a velvety- smooth texture.

Return soup to saucepan. Add cream, and adjust consistency with water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Basil Croutons with Cherry Tomatoes

Makes 12

½ baguette
12 -15 cherry tomatoes
2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, or to taste, minced
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Slice bread, on a slight diagonal, into 12 slices, about ¼ inch think. Arrange slices on a baking pan, and toast until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from oven, set aside.

Mix together basil, garlic, and Parmesan in a small bowl. Pour in oil; mix to combine. Add salt and pepper; mix to combine.

Spoon a small amount of basil mixture onto each crouton, using the back of the spoon to spread slightly. Slice cherry tomatoes in half, and place halves facedown on croutons. Season with salt and pepper.

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