the goods12 medium, ripe (but not spoiled) tomatoes
2 bulbs of garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 tspn cracked black pepper
1-2 tspns salt
1 tspn smoked paprika
1 tspn sweet paprika
up to 1 tblspn brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream or half and half
2 bay leaves
2 tblspns tomato paste (optional)
2 tblspns corn starch
old parmesan rind (optional)
time: 30 mins active, 2 hrs total (best started day before)
you will need:
Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup
I never thought I'd make tomato soup.
It's not that I love the Campbell's stuff, it's just that it is as iconic to my youth as Andy Warhol's version is to modern art.
Then I found myself in Asheville, NC at the height of the tomato season and I was served the most delicious fresh tomato soup with the ubiquitous melty-rich grilled cheese sandwich. These two go together like Maxwell Smart and '99'
I came home kicking myself for not attempting this sooner. I headed down to the local farmers' market, bought the ripest tomatoes that I could find and then I oven roasted them with a little sugar to bring forth their Summery glory.
Line an oven tray with foil, evenly space the tomatoes,
the red pepper and the two bulbs of garlic. When I say
'bulb', I mean two whole heads. Lop the pointed end off
both so that the individual cloves are partially
exposed. This makes it easier to extract the roasted
flesh later. Place the garlic exposed side up on the
tray, nestled in amongst the tomatoes and bell pepper.
Drizzle a little oil over the garlic and pepper,
sprinkle about a teaspoon of brown sugar over the
tomaotes and pop the tray into the oven. set it to
375-400f and roast everything for about an hour. It can
be a chore to turn the oven on in the middle of Summer,
so I usually do double duty and whack a blueberry
buckle cake or peach cobbler in at the same time. The
roasting helps caramelise the sugars in the tomatoes
and concentrates their flavour.
Roast the tomatoes a day ahead. Remove everything to a ceramic or glass bowl, cover and let cool overnight.
Rest a sieve over a large bowl or saucepan and set to peeling and seeding the tomatoes. If this sounds like a chore, then skip it. Just call your soup 'Rustic' and be done with it. Though truthfully, the skins will fall off and you can tear the stems and seeds out and let them fall into the sieve. Put the flesh into the bowl. When you are done, give the seeds, skins and so forth a good squeeze to get the last of the liquid in with the flesh. Also add the liquid from the bowl that the tomatoes were cooling over night in. Peel and seed the pepper and then squeeze the flesh from the garlic bulbs, add both in with the tomatoes.
In a large saucepan heat a good splash of olive oil (about 1/4 cup) and let it heat up. Peel and roughly chop the onions and add them to the oil. The onions need to wilt into a golden heap. Don't let them brown. Add the wine, pepper, paprika, salt and bay leaves. When the liquids reach a boiling point, add the chicken stock and tomatoes, return to a simmer and let everything bubble gently for 45 minutes. If you happen to have an old parmesan rind in the fridge, toss that in too (when you add the tomatoes)...it will give a terrific flavour.
Finally remove the bay leaf (and parmesan rind) and taste the soup. It might need 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. If your tomatoes did not have the strength of flavour that you'd hoped for, add the tomato paste. Use a good one. Scoop out a 1/2 cup of soup and stir the corn starch into it. Make a paste and add this back to the soup. Then blend. I use an immersion blender as it does everything at once in one pot. You can use a blender or food processor, but you might need to do this in batches. The corn starch gives a creamy texture to the soup and thickens it instantly.
To serve, add the cream or half and half and reheat the
soup. Do not let it boil. Finish with lashings of
chopped, fresh basil (and a gooey grilled cheese