I think it’s safe to say that we all crave something warm and comforting this time of the year, especially because of the snow yesterday and today! We’ve been hit by a cold wave the past weeks, with plunging temperatures, brutal wind chills, and apparently less violent crimes (what?). I can’t go anywhere without being bundled up in layers of clothes, scarf, gloves, and earmuffs. It makes the morning commute especially unbearable, but then, going home after being out and about much more satisfying.
A bowl of this tomato soup is just the perfect thing to warm your soul on a bone-chilling day, but rest assured that it is great at any time of the year. I’ve made it a couple of times during the warmer months when there was an abundance of lush, bright red tomatoes. It was a rather delicious way to use them up!
If you like that red label tomato soup (I loved the one with alphabet pasta when I was a kid), you’ll find that this soup is an elegant and sophisticated take on the classic, with flavors and texture that are much, much more remarkable. And it is very simple to make at home; no complicated cooking techniques, no hard-to-find ingredients. I highly recommend that you jump on this bandwagon if you haven’t already done so!
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup
4 lbs vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into quarters, seeds removed
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and skins are slightly charred. Remove from oven and let cool.
Heat a large saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, shallots, and garlic, and saute until the shallots are soft, about 2 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, chicken broth, and tomato paste, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let it cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in basil and puree the soup in a blender until desired consistency is reached. Pour soup back into the pot, add cream, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, with croutons or breadsticks.
*Hand-held blender would be helpful, but if you’re using a regular blender with glass jar, just make sure that you remove the small plastic insert in the middle of the lid and cover the opening with a dish towel to prevent hot steam from building up inside and splattering.
*I leave the skin on the tomatoes for the texture and nutrients (did you know that lycopene is concentrated in the skin of tomatoes?) If you don’t like the texture, just remove the skin before roasting the tomatoes. To remove the skin, plunge the tomato in boiling water for 30 seconds, lift it out, and immerse it in an ice-cold water bath. Using a paring knife, cut an “x” on the bottom of the tomato and the skin should peel off easily.
*If, after pureeing, you find that the soup is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with more chicken broth.
*Sometimes you can substitute dried herbs for fresh ones, but not so with this soup. Fresh basil definitely works better, and if you don’t have any, just omit it altogether.