Thursday, 6 December 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

When you poke your nose out of the door in the morning and there's frost on the cars in the street and you can see your breath, it's soup season! Which, in Montreal, often feels like it lasts 8 months a year...

A good soup recipe is very precious: it can generally easily be doubled, frozen, taken to work as a light lunch, slurped as a midnight snack, nourish a poor cold-afflicted body and it generally tastes almost better reheated than it did fresh from the stockpot.

I had never made tomato soup before stumbling on this recipe on Hot Pink Apron, which is an aberration, really, given how much I love tomatoes. But this recipe was so simple and sounded so tasty that I felt compelled: November is finally over, and it has got to be the suckiest month of the year (long, dark, cold and we don't get Remembrance Day off in Quebec - what a sham), and a nice bowl of soup sounded like Heaven after a long work day. Bring on the comforting treat! We deserve it, if only because we survived November.

My grocery store carries lovely tomatoes on the vine; they are as tasty as tomatoes get (at least until I start growing my own on the balcony next summer!) so I got a nice bunch. I also had a new basil plant with gorgeous big green leaves that were just begging to be massively added to this soup. Is there a better food match than tomatoes and fresh basil? I think not! Note that I also added more garlic than the original Hot Pink Apron recipe: my man and I can never get enough garlic...

Olive oil
6 to 8 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 small red onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large bunch fresh basil leaves
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Set the oven to broil. Grease the baking pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Chop up the tomatoes, onions and garlic and toss on the baking pan. Sprinkle with a healthy dose of coarse sea salt and the dried oregano.

Broil the tomatoes and onions for 10 minutes. Rotate the tray. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and roast the tomato mixture for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the crushed tomatoes, broth and the basil to a large stock pot; bring to boil and simmer on medium-low heat.

Add the roasted tomato mixture to the stock pot and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and using an immersion blender, purée the soup. Put back on low heat until the soup is reheated, add a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and serve with crusty bread and a sprinkle of grated sharp cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano rocks here).

I used fresh Campari tomatoes, very flavorful little fruits that taste good virtually everywhere you'd use tomatoes: they are quite small, so I used a lot more than 6. The trick seems to be keeping a ratio of 3/2 between the fresh tomatoes and the red onions. By the way, this is a great recipe to make if you have slightly mushy tomatoes that have been sitting in the crisper a bit too long!

Such an easy, straightforward recipe deserves a huge shout-out: the kitchen smelled absolutely heavenly while the tomatoes and onions were roasting. The basil keeps the soup from getting the bitter tomato aftertaste I was dreading, and the final texture is luxurious, just thick enough - yet silky.

I am so in love with this soup! Crusty bread is an absolute must: I usually stick to one slice per meal, but I just had to get a second one. Bread soaked in that lovely fragrant soup was just too darn irresistible. Garlic bread would be the ultimate side with which to clean up a bowl of this red wonder, unless you are as crazy as I am and enjoy dipping... grilled cheese sandwiches in your soup!! Oh yeah, baby!

Great minds think alike, by the way: check out Closet Cooking's grilled cheese croutons. Genius.

This recipe earned a spot on my favorite-soups roster: I am gonna whip up a batch every time I need a reminder that tomato season will be back... eventually...

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