Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chef Paul's Tomate-Suppe

One of the good things about being a traveling musician is you meet people along the way and some of them become good friends. As a result of this, we now have “close” friends scattered from Belfast to Prague. The flip side is, sometimes you lose track and it is very hard to locate them. One of our best buddies along the way was Chef Paul Bumgartner, who ran a little hotel and restaurant in Buchs, Switzerland. Paul loved music, and musicians, and the chapter in our lives spent in his hotel jamming all night with Gypsies, eating his great cooking, and soaking up the culture is one of our fondest memories. His recipes pepper our cookbook, The Amazing Afterlife of Zimmerman Fees, and the war stories from those days are never far from being retold. However, Chef Paul disappeared years ago and we never could find him. We haven’t been back to Buchs, or played any of those gigs, in years. That’s just the way it is with our kind of business. Scenes open up to you, you run with it, and then they close and go away.

We were playing a show in Switzerland last year not far from Zurich, but a long way from Buchs, and we wondered idly where Paul had disappeared to. That night, somebody came up behind Kimmie and tapped her on the shoulder and there he was, The Paul Himself, back in our lives again. At last I was able to find out the secret of the Spargel-Suppe! (It was an egg and cream laison.)

Since I am currently confined to a liquid diet, soups are the obvious answer for a gourmand yearning for real flavor. We were just in the Dallas Farmer’s Market, on our way home to Austin, and bought a ton of ripe tomatoes. One of Chef Paul’s good soups was a cream of tomato, and he told us how he did it. This one stood the test of time very well; we make it all the time, liquid diet or no:


Chef Paul’s Tomato-Bacon Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 slices smoked bacon

1 oz unsalted butter

1 24 oz canned peeled tomatoes  with juice

2 cups chicken stock

sea salt, freshly ground pepper

1/2 c. cream

Makes about 6 one-cup servings


Gently sauté the bacon until the fat renders out. Remove bacon. Add an ounce of butter if needed. Add the onions and sauté them for about 20 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and 2 cups of stock. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the bacon and puree the mixture completely. Adjust the salt & pepper. To serve, drizzle some of the cream over the top of the bowl of soup, or whip it and add a spoonful to the soup as a garnish.