I’d much rather eat something fresh and homemade than something out of a box or can. Sure, it can be a little more time consuming, but that’s what my weekends are for. I feel a lot better serving a meal in which I can name every single ingredient. Plus, I don’t mind the bragging rights that come with a little honest-to-goodness made-from-scratch cooking!
One of my husband’s favorite meals is my Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. As soon as the temperatures start cooling off, I’m more than happy to spend a Sunday in the kitchen making this cool-weather meal for him.
I only have to make this once or twice each winter because it fills my Crock Pot completely full and then several containers for freezing. While I may have to invest an afternoon to prepare it once, I’ve got several effortless meals later.
I love hearing my husband brag about this soup, but I have to admit that I’m not much of a soup eater myself. It’s a food that I pretty much avoid eating. So believe me when I tell you this is the only soup I eat. With a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold winter night, I finally get what everyone’s been talking about all these years. This soup is good enough to change the mind of a non-soup eater.
For me, it’s all about the Roma tomatoes. I like the ones that are just slightly firm with enough give to know there’s plenty of sweet juice inside. Romas are my go-to tomato whether I’m making guacamole or topping a sandwich. This recipe uses 18 Roma tomatoes, all of which are rinsed, placed in a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and roasted in the oven for about 45 minutes. This creates an aromatic flavor that is hard to beat.
That is, until the basil gets involved. This is single-handedly my favorite herb. I’m shameless when I encounter a fresh bunch and shove my nose in to the leaves to breathe in as much of that lemony fragrance as possible. When combined with these roasted tomatoes, you get a flavor unmatched by any other soup. And canned tomato soup? Don’t even try because there is no competition.
While the tomatoes roast with a few cloves of whole garlic, and the air in the kitchen becomes almost unbearably delicious, I start working on the rest of the ingredients that fill the stockpot. I roughly chop a yellow onion. There’s no sense in making my eyes burn if the blender will finish the job later. The onion sautees with olive oil where I also add just a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. If you’re sensitive to the heat, skip this, but if you can handle it the flavor is well worth it.
Freshly cracked black pepper and Kosher salt are also added to the pot. These most basic of seasonings help round out the robust taste of this soup and shouldn’t be sacrificed for the regular salt and pepper in your shakers.
Top these ingredients off with vegetable broth and let it simmer while covered. When the tomatoes and garlic are removed from the oven, I use a ladle to carefully drop each whole tomato down in to the pot, and then pour the juices in as well. This all continues to simmer together for about another hour, then I remove the lid and let it cool almost entirely.
The first time I ever made this, I put the boiling soup directly in to the blender and blasted hot liquid all over my skin, kitchen walls, floors, and anything else in the room. The heat causes too much pressure in the blender. So I caution you to be a patient chef. Once the soup has cooled, ladle it into a blender (preferably glass) with handfuls of basil before pureeing. By not cooking the basil and adding this fresh herb at the very last minute, you preserve all of its flavor and allow it to really come through in every sip.
The finished soup is so warm and satisfying with the most intoxicating flavors and aromas that you won’t be able to resist eating it immediately. Provided you don’t blend it too long, it’s even just chunky enough for a delightful mouth feel; it’s also perfect for scooping with grilled cheese or a piece of baguette.
18 Roma tomatoes
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper (or whole peppercorns)
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 14-ounce cans organic, no-sodium diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 quart vegetable broth
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the tomatoes and then place them in a single layer in 9×13 baking dish. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, add the garlic cloves, and sprinkle with the Kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Tomatoes will roast for about 45 minutes.
2. In an 8-quart stockpot on medium-high heat, add the remaining olive oil and chopped onions and sautee until tender. Then add the red pepper flakes, canned tomatoes, thyme, and vegetable broth.
3. Add the roasted tomatoes and garlic, including the liquid from the dish, to the pot. Stir well then bring to a boil and simmer for an hour. Let this cool completely then process in the blender, adding fresh basil before pureeing.
4. Return soup to the stockpot or a Crock Pot to keep warm, or fill freezer-safe containers.
Try More of Our Recipes in Baker’s Dozen: an eCookbook with 13 Healthier Breakfast & Brunch Recipes
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
November 5th, 2012