It’s tomato season. Every year about this time our kitchen gets overrun with tomatoes and peppers from our gardens. Roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, scorching little Thais, terrifyingly hot Habaneros…it depends from year to year. This year we also did a lot of herbs, some berries, canteloupe, watermelon, and peaches too.
But the big news in late August is always TOMATOES. Last year we counted over 600 ripe red beauties brought into our little kitchen. This is what I picked last night.
These are just the Romas. I could have picked twice that many but it was 7 o’clock in the evening and I got five mosquito bites in the five minutes it took me to pick these. Mosquitoes ❤ me.
Anyway. With all the tomatoes we get I make a ton of tomato themed yummies this time of year. And I always make my Roasted Tomato Soup. If, when I say, “Tomato Soup”, the only thing you can imagine is the canned stuff you mix with water then you really really need to make this soup. It is so not even in the same ballpark as the canned slop. Rich with cream and complex with the flavor of the roasted, caramelized fresh tomatoes, it will totally change the way you think about tomato soup. And it’s healthy to boot! It’s broth based so it’s low in calories. All right, let’s get started.
First, arrange fresh roma tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. You definitely want to use a rimmed one as there will be juice on it in a few minutes. (No need to cut the tomatoes in half like I did. My Romas, which are normally so bug/fungus/disease resistant, got some kind of a blight this year and I wanted to make sure they were all okay inside before roasting them.) I used about 25 smallish ones. I usually just eyeball it. You need enough to cover somewhere between half and the whole pan. You’ve got some wiggle room. Drizzle them with some olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. What? you don’t have kosher salt and a pepper grinder in your kitchen? Regular salt and pepper are fine, as they are with most of the recipes you see those ingredients called for. We can talk about how and when they are better at a later date. Right now I’ve got babies wakin’ up so let’s keep a movin’ here.
Here they are after being roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. It’s getting cooler now so you can do that and not worry about your A/C kicking back on. (YAY!) Coincidence that tomatoes ripen just as the temperature abruptly drops??? I think so :p Anyway, that’s what they will look like, roughly, after you finish roasting them. Shriveled, with brown spots. These may have been in a little longer than usual. This is what happens when you’re trying to cook and take pictures with the better half of a daycare hanging around your calves.
Next, grab a couple of cooking onions and chop them up. They should be roughly uniform so that they cook evenly but in the end they’re just going to get pureed so don’t stress over perfection. Actually don’t stress ever. It’s food.
Next, chop up a couple cloves of garlic. Or you can use a teaspoon of the jarred pre-minced stuff. I promise I don’t judge.
Put a stockpot on medium high and melt some butter.
What’s that brown stuff in the pan? Oh, that would be the remnants of the first chunk of butter I threw in after I let the pan get WAY too hot whilst fiddling around with my camera. Fail. This multitasking stuff is hard work. So assuming you didn’t just fill YOUR kitchen up with smoke like I did we should be good to go.
Throw in your onions and cook until they’re nice and soft and getting translucent, a few minutes or so.
Next, toss in your garlic and cook for just a minute or so.
Add in a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon black pepper. Don’t skimp on the salt! Tomatoes take a lot of salt. Oh, and yes, you caught me. I did not totally free hand this one. This recipe is adapted from one I found in Family Fun Magazine a few years back. That’s my tattered recipe binder in the bottom left corner there. One of my most prized possessions to be sure. Anyway. Where was I?
Oh yeah, open up a big can of tomatoes (you can use diced or whole or whatever you have lying around – even fresh if you’re drowning in garden tomatoes) and throw them in the pot.
Add a quart of chicken broth.
And all the roasted tomatoes and any juices from the pan.
And finally some Thyme. Fresh is great if you have it. I did but I was too lazy/overwhelmed at the moment to deal with it. Shortcuts can be a good thing. Say it with me. Shortcuts can be good.
Now just bring it up to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover it partially, and walk away. And if you’re like me you’ll need to set a timer so you don’t wake up at 11 o’clock wondering why the house smells like food.
After about 40 minutes turn off the heat and carefully ladle your soup into your food processor or blender. Or you can use an immersion blender but I don’t think it does as good of a job on this particular soup. You really want to blend it well so that you can taste the wonderful caramelized, roasted tomatoes but not get the skins stuck in your teeth.
Caution: You see that little white line towards the bottom of the food processor? That’s the “don’t even think about putting liquids in above this line” line. It’s actually running in this shot, that’s why it looks so full. Small batches. Trust me. I used to do this in my blender and, unless you like getting splattered with boiling hot soup, I’d advise you not fill it too full.
Now that your soup is totally pureed you can pour it back into the stockpot (or a bowl as I did here since we were not going to be eating it right away) and add in a cup of heavy cream. It will turn a nice orange color. Heat it on low just to get it steamy again.
Roasted Tomato Soup (adapted from Family Fun Magazine)
20ish Roma tomatoes or 6 cups cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 cooking onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp Thyme
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss fresh tomatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes.
Heat a large stockpot over medium high. Melt the butter and add the chopped onions. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Pour in the chicken broth, canned tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, 1/2 tsp Thyme, 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 black pepper to the mix. Bring to a simmer and cover, partially, for 40 minutes.
Carefully ladle soup into food processor or blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender to get the same effect). Return soup to the pot and add the heavy cream. Warm back up to temp and serve.
Serves 12 (ish).