Roasted Tomato and Fresh Basil Soup (and a Vegetable Stock Recipe)
Besides chicken noodle, I would have to say tomato is probably the most famous, well-known soup in existence. According to Wikipedia, “The first noted tomato soup was made by Maria Parloa in 1872, and Joseph A. Campbell’s recipe for condensed tomato soup in 1897 further increased its popularity.” And of course, when thinking about tomato soup one can’t forget Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup Cans. For so many individuals, tomato soup (perhaps with a side of grilled cheese) is the quintessential comfort food.
As for me, I’m actually not a huge fan. I can’t recall having homemade tomato soup as a kid and as a result I was just used to the very “meh” canned stuff (no offense, Campbell’s). Since I never had especially positive experiences with the stuff I kind of ignored it most of my life. I would see it on menus from time to time and would immediately just skim right past it. Even seeing it prepared by my favorite chefs on Food Network didn’t really intrigue me.
About a year ago I decided I would try to embrace a soup that most of the world seems to love and took a stab at making my own. While I liked it I thought it had a bit of a flat flavor, probably due to the fact that the fresh tomatoes I used (in the middle of winter) were far from in-season. Not wanting to be defeated by a soup, I looked for other recipes and eventually found one that roasted the tomatoes before mixing them in with the other soup ingredients.
I adore roasted vegetables. I think roasting is one of the best ways of cooking a vegetable as it brings out a ton of natural sweetness. While I was still using not-in-season tomatoes, I found that the roasting process negated subpar tomatoes.
While I had come close to finding my ideal soup, there was just one other thing I wasn’t in love with: the stock. Yes, I had always taken the route of buying vegetable stock in a carton from the store. Stock is always so much better when homemade and when it comes to vegetable stock there’s really no excuse not to make your own… it’s so easy and cheap to make.
Roasted Tomato and Fresh Basil Soup
Adapted from Sunny Anderson
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 8 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
- 2 red peppers, quartered and seeded
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- One 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (white sugar or agave are fine substitutes)
- 6 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)
- 1/2 cup tightly packed basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Gently toss together 2 tablespoons of the oil, the vinegar, thyme, tomatoes, red peppers and onions on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Arrange the tomatoes and red peppers skin-side up and bake until lightly charred, 45 to 50 minutes.
Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and mix well and cook for a few minutes until the tomato paste has become a copper color. Add the tomato and pepper mixture, including the juices, and combine. Stir in the stock; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the soup and basil to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and pulse in small batches until silky smooth. Use a separate bowl to hold the blended soup, and then return it all to the pot, taste for seasoning, and cook for a few more minutes. Serve with additional chopped herbs and a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional). Serves 6.
Adapted from Allrecipes
Besides using very basic vegetables, this is an easy stock that can be made while the tomatoes in the tomato soup roast.
- 1 large onion, chopped into a medium dice
- 2 stalks celery, including some leaves, chopped into a medium dice
- 2 large carrots, chopped into a medium dice
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 sprigs fresh parsley
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- About 8 whole peppercorns
- 2 quarts water
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for approximately 30 minutes. Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Yields approximately 7 cups of stock. Easy peasy!