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Roasted Tomato Soup

You may have noticed a heavy emphasis on tomatoes in the past several posts and that is so true!  It’s that time of year – the tomatoes are really abundant and although they will hold for a little while I generally try to work them into every meal (often breakfast, too) so that I reduce the risk of letting any slip by my daily observation and end up too ripe.  (And often attracting fruit flies…) 
Last year I canned quite a few and still have several of those left so I’ve decided that’s not an option for me this year.  But one way to use several tomatoes all at once (besides in a pasta sauce) is in soup!  And this is a really great soup.  I think I came across it about 2 years ago, although the publication date is 2003.  It’s become one of my favorite ways to use tomatoes. 
You do want to plan a bit ahead as you need time to roast the tomatoes prior to starting the actual soup.  The recipe says to roast them for one hour and that’s great for plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes or any other smallish tomato, but for larger varieties you want to allow more time.  I roasted the tomatoes for this day’s soup for 2 hours. 
You can vary the flavor and intensity of this soup in various ways, but I like an intense, hearty warming soup – it’s perfect for lunch on these fall days that are warm for a little while but then start cooling down fairly early in the day.  The original recipe is on Epicurious.  But let me give you a few other ideas. 
First, they say that you need plum tomatoes for an intensely flavored soup – that helps but there are several varieties of tomatoes that will provide intense flavor.  More important is that the tomatoes were vine-ripened and that you got them from your own garden or a farmers’ market or a local source that really lets the tomatoes ripen on the plant (and in the ground) before picking them. Most supermarket tomatoes do not qualify and in that case Roma or plum will be your best bet. 
The recipe calls for cream to be added in the last step but you don’t need it.  Don’t get me wrong it is very nice with the cream but it’s also really tasty without it. 
Just for a little variety I often roast a few other vegetables when I’m roasting my tomatoes – mild peppers or carrots for example – and I add the at the same time the tomatoes are added.   These other veggies normally add just an intricacy to the flavor but it still tastes like tomato soup. 
I sometimes also add a hot pepper like a little Thai Hot.  You can remove these before blending or leave them in.  Today I left mine in and it added such a nice spicy element!  If you blend them in, instead of topping with Parmesan or a Parmesan Wafer add a little dab of sour cream to the center of the bowl.  That will help alleviate the heat. 
If you have an immersion blender that works better than transferring the soup to a blender – but the blender works fine, too. 
  1. Tamara permalink
    17-Oct-2006 12:33 pm

    Did you grow all these tomatoes in the Pacific NW?  I live in the Seattle area and would LOVE to grow tomatoes but I heard it was hard and I have a black thumb.

  2. Culinary permalink
    17-Oct-2006 8:43 pm

    Hi TammyLou!
    Yep – they are all from my backyard and I live right here in Seattle, too!  Our main challenge is that we don\’t have a real long growing season for tomatoes but there are a couple things you can do to give yourself a better chance of success. 
    First, there are several plants specifically formulated for the NW and your nursery will be able to help you with that or often the name  gives it away.  A lot of the research is done in Oregon so if the tomato is named Oregon something or Willamette something, for instance, chances are it\’s a NW tomato. 
    Generally smaller tomatoes ripen faster than larger so look for version like Early Girl which makes a nice size tomato but they are not huge like a beefsteak. 
    Plant in a sunny protected area.  My tomato bed is on the south side of my house.  Not only do they get sun all day long but the house heats during the day and keeps the air a bit warmer over night – it\’s amazing what a few extra degrees can do overnight. 
    Since I plant in the same location every year (which is actually a no-no with tomatoes since they take a LOT from the soil) I really make sure to add a layer of compost both in the fall and again in the spring and work it in well to revive the soil. 
    I even have pretty good luck with heirloom type tomatoes – which are considered harder to grow – although any given year may not be as good as others. 
    Also ask at your nursery for their tips on planting.  For instance if you want to get a jump start you can plant earlier and then protect the plants overnight with plastic to keep them warmer – that putting the plastic on and off is too much work for me, so I normally don\’t plant until mid-May so that they don\’t get set back by cold nights. 
    You should also break a few of the lowest branches off the plant and plant that area under the soil.  Those places will grow roots which will feed the plant better – your nursery can give you some other tips like that. 
    Give it a try – you might be pleasantly surprised at how well you can do! 
    ~ B

  3. Tamara permalink
    18-Oct-2006 1:49 pm

    Thanks so much for the tips.  I will have to start looking for a good spot in my yard. I grew up in the southeast where everyone grew tomatoes and were constantly trying to give them away to anyone who would take them.  The ones in the grocery store don\’t even taste like the same thing.

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