13 December 2012
Winter is the perfect time for rustic casseroles, robust stews and satisfying soups. Though I love the hearty soups made from the fresh, local ingredients available at this time of year, there are days when what I really want is a bowl of tomato soup. End of summer, early fall, I make my roasted tomato soup from garden tomatoes. But now the choice is out-of-season "fresh" tomatoes or canned tomatoes.
No contest! I'll choose quality canned tomatoes every time. If you don't have home-canned tomatoes on hand, be sure to buy a brand that is organic, non-GMO and BPA-free. Roasting the tomatoes and vegetables gives this soup a deeper flavor. If you find yourself in the mood for tomato soup, don't wait for summer. And, for goodness sake, do NOT resort to canned soup (especially one that contains high fructose corn syrup)!
I've found that really good canned tomatoes (I always use Muir Glen organic) make better soup than the less-than-stellar fresh tomatoes available. If I couldn't get Muir Glen's fire-roasted tomatoes, I would get the canned whole tomatoes and roast them along with the other vegetables as directed below.
This is a recipe I developed years ago, and I love it when made just as written. But, you know how it is. You're in the mood to make something and you don't have all the ingredients. By the time you go to the store, you're either out of the mood or out of time. That's the beauty of soup--you can leave things out, add things in, it's all good. This time I was out of celery, so I just added 1/8 teaspoon of celery seed, something I always have on hand.
Of course, you can eat it right away, but it tastes even better the next day. So make it a day ahead if you can. What is your favorite soup?
Roasted Tomato Soup
1 medium or 1/2 large red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 medium stalk celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 small onion, cut into 2 pieces
1 small shallot
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes (Muir Glen)
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups lower-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On foil-lined half-sheet pan, spread out bell pepper, celery, onion and shallot. Drizzle oil over vegetables; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables until browned and tender about 30 minutes. Remove from oven. (If using regular canned whole tomatoes, drain and reserve juice; cut tomatoes in half; and arrange cut side up on baking sheet along with the other vegetables.) Cool slightly, about 45 minutes, before putting in the blender.)
2 Put tomatoes and roasted vegetables and any accumulated juices in blender. Press the liquefy button and process until smooth; strain through sieve set over 2-quart glass measure (adding some of the broth, if needed to make the soup easier to strain). Cover and keep refrigerated (up to 1 day ahead) until ready to finish soup.
3 In 3-quart saucepan, heat soup to a simmer, adding sugar, marjoram, crushed red pepper, broth and cream. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle soup into 6 warm shallow bowls. Top each with a dollop of sour cream, and garnish with homemade croutons.
Optional: The best way to add garlic to this soup is in the form of homemade croutons, easily made in a skillet with 2 cups of 3/4-inch cubes of sourdough bread, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, a little salt and 1 clove fresh garlic, halved. Cook the garlic for a few minutes, then discard. Toss the bread cubes in the garlic-infused oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.