Despite the fact that is summer, and the temperatures are going to climb back into the 90's by the middle of the week (at least here in Philadelphia), I have soup on the brain. Since I'm also obsessed with the summer crop of Jersey tomatoes that are rolling into the stores and farmers' markets around here, I thought I would share my very favorite Roasted Tomato Basil soup recipe.
Sadly, I have absolutely no claim on this one, it belongs to the Barefoot Contessa. I tend to have difficulties with many of her recipes (I can't handle the idea of putting a large pat of butter on the inside of a hamburger patty), but this one is foolproof and bowl-lickingly good.
3 pounds of ripe tomatoes (she calls for plum tomatoes, I use whatever looks good) cut in half
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (I typically use sweet onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced or run through a press
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) can of plum tomatoes, with their juice (San Marzano, perhaps?)
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (dried also works)
1 quart chicken stock or water (water tastes just as good and makes it safe for your veggie friends and family)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast on the top rack for 45 minutes.
Pull out an 8-quart pot (or something in the neighborhood of that size) and saute the onions and garlic with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, butter and red pepper flakes. Let them go for about ten minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the roasted tomatoes (with all the yummy juices from the pan). Bring to a boil and then take it down to a simmer. Let it go for about 45 minutes, until everything has broken down into one gorgeous mess of tomato-y goodness.
At this point, she recommends that you pass it through a food mill. Despite the fact that I actually do own a food mill (part of my inheritance from my great-Aunt Doris), I tend to just stick my immersion blender in there for 30 seconds or so, just to break up the big bits. I think it eats better as a chunky soup that a perfectly smooth one. And, because it is summer, this soup is good both hot and cold.
Photo by Vanesscipes
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