Roasted Tomato Soup
Another recipe from my “to cook” file is Roasted Tomato Soup. I clipped that one only last year from the 101 Cookbooks website. Since I’m on a tomato binge just now and my winter sauce needs are nearly satisfied, I’m looking for soups. I did a Tyler Florence Roasted Tomato Soup recipe from the Food Network, and it was okay, but the FN recipes always seem contrived to have an “angle” for TV sensation (especially his). In this case, he roasts cherry tomatoes on the vine for garnish. C’mon.
So I wanted a roasted tomato soup from a real cook and turned to 101 Cookbooks. Roast tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, garlic. Puree and thin with broth. That’s it. The recipe called for 5 tomatoes, but I’m using Early Girls, which are pretty small, so I figured about 2 1/2 pounds, and sure enough, that’s what fit on the roasting pan.
The soup was good. It’s very thick. I guess I could have made it thinner by adding more broth… but I like it thick, and what th’ hell, I’ll call it a sauce. In fact, I served it with bits of Italian sausage over whole wheat spaghetti… I just really wanted to do that. That was good, but I DO NOT like wheat spaghetti for tomato sauce. It has way too strong a taste for this sauce. [I originally bought the Whole Wheat spaghetti for a CI recipe tester recipe of Whole Wheat Pasta with Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, a dish where the pasta flavor is the flavor of the dish.] But I digress.
I had a bowl of the soup for lunch. In spite of going through the blender, there were still a few seeds and bits of skin. Those are not tasty.
So I went for Round Two. Round One featured those huge onions, which are the only kind you can find this time of year, especially at the supermarket. The red peppers were huge, as well. For Round Two, I found some nice young onions at the Farmers Market, as well as nice peppers just out of the field.
Instead of using the blender, I used my food mill… that will get rid of the skins and seeds and any tough onion skins.
The result was a silky smooth tomato soup with loads of flavor. I used only 1/2 cup of broth since it wasn’t super-thick. The yield was only a little over 3 cups, about half of the yield of the first Round. This occurred because all the skins, seeds and tough parts of the onion were left in the food mill, rather than being blenderized into the soup.
In conclusion, I much prefer the flavor and texture of Round Two, even though the yield is small. That is with the Early Girl tomatoes. On the other hand, if I were using larger heirloom tomatoes, where the ratio of skin and seeds to pulp is much smaller, the 101 Cookbooks method as written would, no doubt, work fine, either with the blender or the food mill. I would, however, remove as much skin and seeds as possible after roasting. I’ll have to wait until next year to try that, as the heirlooms are pretty much gone for this season.
Roasted Tomato Soup (Sauce)
101 Cookbooks 9.08 Serves 4.
5 tomatoes [1 1/2 pounds], cored and quartered
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
3 medium yellow onions, peeled, quartered
extra-virgin olive oil
5 plump cloves of garlic, unpeeled
fine-grain sea salt
2 – 3 cups light vegetable stock or water
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and position 2 racks in the middle of the oven. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, alternately you can just rub them down with a thin glaze of olive oil.
Arrange the tomatoes, skin side down, on a baking sheet. Coat the bell pepper and onions with olive oil and put them on the other baking sheet along with the garlic, place the pepper skin side down as well. Give both sheets a light showering of salt, then bake until the tomatoes start to collapse and the onions start to brown and caramelize, about 45 minutes. Turn the onions if they start getting overly dark on the bottom. Check on the garlic as well, once the cloves are golden and oozy inside, pull them from the oven.
Peel the garlic, dump all of the roasted vegetables into a big, high-sided bowl, and puree with a hand blender. Alternately, use a conventional blender or food processor and work in batches. Blend in a cup of the stock, and keep adding the rest 1/2 cup at a time until the soup is the desired consistency. [I used my blender in two batches and added 3/4 cup stock to each batch.] I like a little chunk and texture to this soup particularly if the weather has a bit of a chill, but smooth or chunky is your call. Add the paprika and a bit more salt if needed – adjusting to your taste.
(You can serve this soup hot, cold – whatever the weather calls for. And you can do it a day or two in advance if need be, it keeps well.)