I love soup. buttttt...
...I hate making soup.
I cannot give you a particular reason why – I never been good at it. And my mother has totally spoiled me when it comes to soups.
Well, because, my mother is an excellent soup maker. She can take anything (and I mean ANYTHING) and make it into an out-of-this-world soup.
Me, I know how to open a can (yes, you can cringe now – go ahead, I give you permission) and modify the soup and make it better, but from scratch? No-can-do. And if I wanted something homemade, all I had to do was call my mom up and she would whip something up in a day. How is that for one-stop take out?
To top all of this soup insecurity is the fact that I’m also very fussy about the soups that I eat. Show me a leek and potato soup, lentil soup, lobster bisque, butternut squash bisque, broccoli- cheddar and I will choose that over a fancy entre, hands down.
But, the one that has my heart, the one that I seek is the tomato soup. I have searched high and low for the ultimate tomato soup. I have a few very good contenders thru the years. And so far the tomato soup sold by Whole Food is good choice. It has the qualities that I love about a tomato soup, chucky pieces of tomatoes with the creamy texture of everything else, and with a bit of a tart and sweet flavor filled with fresh herbs. You can usually find me buying the large take out of this and eat it throughout the week. Then there is the tomato soup from a local restaurant called The Red Elephant Pizza and Grill – this is so far one of my favorites, its filled with bits and pieces of roasted tomatoes and onions and the smoky flavor compliments the richness of the soup. This IS a TOMATO SOUP.
This weekend I was craving the soup – in a very BAD, BAD way, but it was raining, and I was not in the mood to shed my PJ’s and head out into the storm for it, however bad the craving was, the lazy in me was winning hands down.
After a whole lot bit of whinny and complaining and not getting Tom any volunteers to go out in the pouring rain to get the soup – Tom called me out on my nagging and told me to “make the damn soup yourself, because how difficult could a tomato soup be?"
He was right, how hard could it be?
Apparently, not very hard.
I Google “Roasted Tomato Soup” and came up with 669,000 possibilities. After clicking on the top 10 these were the ones that sort of called out to me:
I had the following ingredients at home: Tomatoes, red pepper, carrots, basil and garlic, heavy cream, oregano, thyme and chicken glaze.
So I came up with this version:
Roasted Tomato Soup
Inspired by a lot of recipes!
6 tomatoes, quartered
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
3 medium yellow onions, peeled, quartered
extra-virgin olive oil
6 plump cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2 carrots cut in rough pieces
fine-grain sea salt – to taste
Fresh ground pepper – to taste
2 - 3 cups light chicken stock
¼ teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
4-6 bunches of fresh basil - chopped
4-6 bunches fresh thyme – chopped
1 teaspoon of fresh oregano – chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato paste (or ketchup if you don’t have the paste)
1-2 tablespoon of heavy cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and position 2 racks in the middle of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the cut up tomatoes on one of the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil – use your hands to rub them down and once fully coated arrange them skin side down. Do the same thing with the bell pepper, onions and carrots and place them in the other prepared baking sheet, add the unpeeled garlic and arrange the peppers skin side down as well.
Roast in the hot oven until the tomatoes start to collapse and the onions start to brown and caramelize, about 45 minutes.
Prepare the chicken stock (you can use Vegetable stock if you prefer) by warming it up. I use a concentrated chicken glaze, which I have to mix in with water to convert into a usable stock. Of course if you have homemade – by all means use that.
When everything is roasted, take out of the oven, and start by squeezing the roasted garlic out of their skin unto the bowl of a food processor or conventional blender (work in batches) them dump the rest of the roasted tomatoes and vegetables. Blend in a cup of the stock and pulse. Keep adding the rest 1/2 cup at a time until the soup is the desired consistency. I like a little chunk and texture so I ended up using only a cup and half of stock.
Place the blended soup into a deep stock pan and under medium-low heat, add the fresh herbs, red pepper flakes and cooked it up for about 10 minutes. Tasted and adjust the season with salt and ground pepper (if needed). At this point, add the 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, stir and cook about another 5 minutes. Finished it off by pouring the heavy cream (if you want to make it more creamy), stir and serve.
I drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of my soup and slurped it!
I was surprise in how good it was, it had the roasted flavor, the silky and chunky texture I love and the cream just finish it off and took it way to another level. Not a bisque, not a tomato sauce, but a perfect in-between.
Now that I know that I can make it home, there will be no need to run to Whole Foods or The Red Elephant to get my fix.