Thursday, September 19, 2013

cream of tomato soup.

The arrival of fall marks the return of my favorite Steve Alan plaid button down, blazers as outerwear (and outerwear in general), olive green corduroys,  black ankle boots (I finally found the perfect pair), and soup for lunch.  I am one of those people who gets an immense amount of satisfaction from a bowl of soup, a chunk of crusty bread, and a wedge of cheese.  It’s a rustic, homey, and comforting meal that feels just right on a brisk fall day. 

Tomato soup is far and away my absolute favorite.  Mostly because it’s an excuse to eat grilled cheese (if you didn’t already know this I am a slight cheese fanatic) but also because it’s a really wonderful way to use up the last of the heirloom and roma tomatoes that are currently languishing at the farmer’s market and turn them into an incredibly satisfying meal.  I’ve made a lot of tomato soups in my day but this recipe is my absolute favorite (and you can make it in the winter using canned tomatoes!).  Roasting the tomatoes first intensifies their flavor causing the soup to taste even more tomato-y and rich.  The roasted tomatoes when paired with homemade stock makes for an incredibly well-flavored soup.  The (small) addition of cream helps turn this into a rather indulgent (yet still healthy) meal.  I plan on making another pot this weekend before tomato season is gone.  

Cream of Tomato Soup
Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook 

So this recipe can be done one of two ways.  The first way is to use canned tomatoes but since we are still in tomato season I used assorted heirloom and roma tomatoes.  Both work amazingly well. 

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved OR 5 pounds of mixed tomatoes (heirlooms and romas are what I used) (if using fresh you may not get 3 cups of juice so you can make up for the missing juice with water)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 – 2 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
¼ - ½ cup heavy cream or half and half (depending on your preference) 
Salt and cayenne pepper

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. If using fresh tomatoes, bring a pot of water to boil.  Cut an “x” into the bottom of each of the tomatoes and place the tomatoes into the boiling water for 60 seconds until the skins loosen.  Once the skins are loose, place the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water or rinse them under cold water.  Cut in half or quarter them. (From this part forward these instructions apply to both types of tomatoes.) With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over strainer set in bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 - 45 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.

Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add garlic and tomato paste. And stir occasionally until the garlic has softened and begun to brown about 2-3 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

Transfer soup to a blender or Cusinart and puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture in saucepan. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

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