December 6, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

Remember those cans of tomato soup that your mom would crack open and serve with a hot, buttery grilled cheese? This is just like that meal, but even better. I slow roast my tomatoes to develop their flavor and add notes of caramel, and then I add a variety of Italian herbs and spices. There really isn't much that makes this unhealthy, so it is perfectly fine if you indulge on seconds or thirds.

I start by taking an obscene amount of tomatoes and roasting them. Sure, fire-roasted ones are delicious, but roasting at 300 degrees brings out the natural sweetness and draws out the moisture without leaving a charred aftertaste. To add even more tomato flavor, I add a whole can of tomato paste. Well, a whole can may not look like much since, if you've ever seen a can of tomato paste, they are smaller than my palm. However, tomato paste is twice as concentrated as tomato puree, so one can is just enough to add a deep crimson color and robust taste.

I like to add some Italian flair to the soup by adding in a handful of fresh basil and thyme, blended with plenty of fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar, and some dried herbs. You can adjust the proportions and amount of spice to fit your taste. I also add a splash of lemon juice for a bit of acid to break up the richness, and I thin the whole mixture with chicken stock (or vegetable broth if you are vegan or vegetarian) and a bit of red wine.

If you want to make the soup look pretty and presentable, the deep scarlet hue will certainly suffice. I also like to garnish it with some fresh herbs, like leftover basil or thyme leaves, or even some homemade croutons. They couldn't be easier to make! Just cube some bread (day-old works well), toss it in some olive oil and garlic, and bake at 375F for a few minutes until golden and crisp. If you sprinkle some Parmesan or provolone on top, it will be just like those grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. There is no way to mess up that combination, but this is one of the best ways to enjoy it!

4 lbs Tomatoes
1 Yellow Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/3 Cup Red Wine
2 Cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth
1 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 6oz Can Tomato Paste
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Chiffonaded Basil
1 T Fresh Thyme
1/2-1 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
3/4 tsp Oregano

Heat oven to 300F.

Cut the tomatoes in half. Spread on a cookie tray, cut-side up, and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 3 hours or until shriveled.

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Stir in the roasted tomatoes, lemon juice, thyme, and basil. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, wine, and balsamic vinegar, then stir in the chicken stock, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, then puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6
Recipe Adapted from

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