Monday, February 21, 2011

The Ultimate Winter's Meal: Cream of Tomato Soup

I've been thinking about my favorite winter warm-up meals lately - favorite things to the make on a cold winter's day to warm the belly and ignite the soul. Things like Eggplant Parmesan or Hungarian Mushroom Soup. As a kid I always loved cream of tomato soup or tomato soup with rice. There was nothing more comforting then sitting at the kitchen table with a big bowl of tomato soup. Over the weekend, it occurred to me that I've never made tomato soup from scratch and I was long overdue to try.

Browsing through recipes, I found just as many recipes call for canned tomatoes as fresh. While now is not the best time to buy ripe tomatoes, I bought a couple of bunches a week ago and let them ripen on the windowsill. And in spite it being February, after a few days the tomatoes looked juicy red, plump and ready for soup making.

I took inspiration from two recipes, John Bishop's Roasted Tomato Summer Soup and Food Network's Homemade Tomato Soup courtesy of Michael Chiarello. I liked Bishop's addition of chili peppers and fennel seeds but Chiarello's five star recipe couldn't be ignored. I loved the idea of roasting the tomatoes before adding to the soup pot but wanted to use fresh ones, not canned.

In the end, this soup blew my mind. Why have I never made cream of tomato soup before? What have I been wasting my time on. This soup is full of rich, intense flavours thanks to the roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and fennel seed. I pureed the soup but left it slightly chunky for a rustic flare. The one ingredient that caused me to pause, but only long enough to say let's go for it is the two tablespoons of butter. Don't over think it, Julie Child wouldn't. The only change I'd make next time... is to make twice as much.

Homemade Cream of Tomato Soup (serves 2-3)

3 cups or 6 tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash and quarter the tomatoes and add to a large roasting pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, chili flakes, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute for about 10-15 minutes until it begins to caramelize. Add the celery, carrot and garlic, cook until it softens, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes with all the juices, vegetable broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until the flavours fuse and all the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add cream and stir. Puree until it reaches the consistency you like.


Stephanie said...

Oooh - that sounds really good. I haven't made tomato soup from scratch for decades. Your recipe is much improved over my old home-ec one!

Melody Wey said...

Thanks Stephanie! This soup is amazing, the picture really doesn't do it justice.

Overthrust said...

Just made the soup and the kale. Very tasty! I'm going to try the roast tomato step the next time I make pasta sauce. Thanks!