Cold weather has officially arrived in our neck of the oak woods. A hot bowl of soup is the perfect warm-me-up on cold winter days, and since January is National Soup Month, I've shared several soup recipes with my readers during Soup Month for the past couple of years.
Tomato soup reminds me of my summer garden in the middle of winter. I always intend to make it during the summer when I have an abundance of fresh tomatoes but it's so hot both outside and in the house that I always put it off. I usually use my home-canned tomatoes for the winter version, but this summer I froze some tomatoes to see if I could roast them for this soup.
Do you know how easy it is to peel frozen tomatoes? Seriously, it's the easiest thing ever. Just plop the frozen tomatoes in a big bowl of hot tap water and wait a few minutes. The skin just slides off. Even if I'm going to can tomatoes I freeze them first because it's so easy to remove the skins. I cut the fresh tomatoes in half, remove the core, put in freezer bags and into the freezer they go.
To make this tomato soup I took a bag of tomatoes out of the freezer, put them in a very large bowl and covered them with hot water. I used a variety of homegrown tomatoes: paste, salad size, large tomatoes and even some yellow pear tomatoes. Using several different varieties gives the soup a deep, rich flavor.
While waiting for the vegetables to roast I melted the butter in a heavy pot, then added the flour and whisked it together. I always let this cook a bit to remove the "raw flour" taste, then I added the chicken broth and whisked it to combine and to remove any lumps. When the tomatoes were roasted and the onions were nicely caramelized I emptied the baking dishes into the pot, added the bay leaf and a little sugar, and let it simmer for about half an hour. By that time the veggies were nice and soft.
Then I added the basil, salt and pepper, and cayenne. It would be nice to have fresh basil but since it's winter, I used some dried basil from my garden. You can taste it to see if it needs more salt or sugar; I thought it was just right. I let it simmer for a few more minutes, then removed the bay leaf.
Finally, I poured the whole pot into my Ninja blender (affiliate link) and whirred it until the soup was smooth. I've never been able to get my tomato soup as perfectly smooth as canned soup; I've decided it just can't be done at home, but it's still awfully good.
This is hot enough for me but if you like super-hot soup you can pour it back into the pot and heat it up again. Add cream if you like, or thin it a bit with more chicken broth if it's too thick for you. Pour into bowls and garnish. Serve with crackers or the classic grilled cheese sandwich.
1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 or 2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 Tbsp flour
4 pounds tomatoes (approximately), halved, cored and skinned
1 quart chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sugar (optional)
3 leaves of chopped, fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
3/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°.
In a baking pan or tray, drizzle some olive oil, then toss in the chopped tomatoes, onions, celery and garlic. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until onions are caramelized.
Melt butter in a heavy pot. When butter melts add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for a minute or two so it won't taste like flour. Whisk in the chicken broth. Add the roasted vegetables, bay leaf and sugar. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced a bit and vegetables are soft. Add the basil, salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes, remove the bay leaf, then transfer to blender jar and blend until smooth. An immersion blender can be used instead. Return to pot and heat back up. Add heavy cream if desired, or add additional chicken broth if it's too thick.
Pour into bowls and serve. Can be garnished with a dollop of sour cream or a fresh basil leaf if desired.
This is one of my favorite soups, I hope it might be one of yours too. Share this post with another soup lover!
Soup Recipe Roundup
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