Why can’t Mother Nature be more cooperative with my culinary needs? It just doesn’t seem right that tomatoes are at their peak, and therefore, at their most abundant and cheapest availability in late summer, but I won’t want that comforting bowl of sweet, steamy tomato soup until middle of winter. Good thing I live in the Pacific Northwest as you can frequently count on it being overcast with a slight chill in the air in late August, making it just right (if not ideal) soup weather.
As you can tell from the banner for this blog, we get more than our fair share of tomatoes between the CSA and John’s garden. I love seeing the varying hues of red, green and orange as I line up my varieties of tomatoes on the kitchen windowsill, but I need to find ways to use up mass quantities before they start to turn into mushy, moldy messes. Tomato soup seemed like a fun way to address that need- I’d never made it before so this would be a challenge, a boost to my creative juices, and a pragmatic task.
So there are a few personal twists to this tomato soup recipe. First, I really love the way that roasting brings out both a slight nuttiness and enhances the essential flavor of a vegetable, so I decided to oven roast the vegetables making up my pureed soup. Next, I wanted to make sure that there were carrots in this soup as a tribute to the best tomato soup in the world, tomato soup that one otherwise conservative friend once called “orgasmic;” soup that I would say I get homesick for. I love that soup for how you can see the little threads of shredded carrot running throughout it, giving a gentle sweetness to the whole bowl. Lastly, I added fennel as I thought the anise flavor would balance out the sweet but acidic tomatoes– made sense to me since tomato and basil is such a classic pairing.
The roasted vegetables were combined with vegetable broth, pureed, and poured back into the pot with a touch of cream. This hit all the right notes of sweetness, slight acid, and warm, roasted flavors, but it seems that I could have done with more tomatoes to carrot ratio. As it was, the tomato flavor wasn’t strong enough and John dubbed it a “summer vegetable soup” instead of tomato. I’m still calling it tomato with the hope that this was a really good start to developing an even better tomato soup, perfect for that blustery winter day when I’ll curl up on the couch with a big bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for dipping.
- 6 slicing tomatoes
- 3 large carrots
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- olive oil
- 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 large bay leaf
- 32 oz vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roughly chop the tomatoes, carrots, fennel and garlic. On a baking sheet, spread out the vegetables and mix with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
In a large soup pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions and celery and saute until translucent. Add the roasted vegetables, thyme, bay leaf and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, simmering for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender or pouring batches of 2 cups at a time into a regular blender, puree the soup. If doing batches in a blender, use a kitchen towel to hold down the lid as the soup may splatter the lid off and will be hot. Add the soup back to the pot and add the cream, adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Once the soup is heated through, serve in bowls with a chiffonade of basil.
CSA Count: 4
Slicing tomatoes, carrots, fennel, fresh garlic