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One of the things I love most about summertime is the tomatoes.  Caprese Salad, Bruschetta, Home-Made Pizza Margherita…I love it all.  However, it is possible that my favorite summer tradition is Roasted Tomato Soup.

Several summers ago my dad had a bumper crop of gorgeous home-grown tomatoes. I decided to take it upon myself to find the perfect Roasted Tomato Soup recipe.  I tried at least 4 variations.  Three of those were in one epic cooking day. Tasting them all side by side, the following recipe was voted the hands down favorite by all of us.  It is a Tyler Florence recipe and has become a household “must-make” every year.

You may be asking yourself WHY I choose to make a recipe that calls for roasting tomatoes at 450 degrees in the middle summer when it will already be 90 degrees outside?  Three reasons motivate me to pay extra for air conditioning on soup making day:

1. (Perhaps the most obvious) Tomatoes are in season and the largest variety/most flavorful tomatoes are available in the summer.

2. As soon as these beauties begin appearing en masse in the grocery stores, Trinity gazes at them with big eyes and asks “When are you going to make my FAVORITE tomato soup?  Do you want to buy some tomatoes right now mommy?”

3. It freezes well and there is nothing quite like pulling some out on the first really snowy night of winter for a soul-warming supper of home-made tomato soup.

Tyler Florence’s Roasted Tomato Soup (along with my own narrative additions)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced
  • Vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, optional
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core, and cut the tomatoes into halves.  Just tear the core out with your hands.  It’s messy but fast. I don’t think I ever make less than a triple batch of this soup.  With so many tomatoes to core, the acidity inevitably irritates my skin.  If you are the same way, disposable kitchen gloves solve that problem. If you use grape or cherry tomatoes just throw them on the tray whole.

Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. I like to line the trays with foil.  It saves a lot of elbow grease later! Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Here they are ready to go into the oven!  It may seem like a lot of onions. The first time I made this soup I was tempted to cut down on them but they caramelize beautifully and add a wonderful rich flavor to the soup.

Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized. If you make more than a single batch of this soup it may take longer.  It generally takes about 50 minutes for me to get the caramelization I’m looking for.  I rotate the trays every 10 minutes to ensure even roasting.

Right out of the oven!

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot (set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later). Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot.  I’ve used dried basil in a pinch and it was fine but in my opinion it’s worth springing for the fresh stuff. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish in bowl with 3 or 4 roasted vine cherry tomatoes and a splash of heavy cream.

To make this recipe a little healthier you can cut down on the amount of butter (or omit altogether), and replace the cream with whatever makes you happy (Half and half, fat free half and half, whole milk…) Whether you choose to lighten it up or enjoy the creamy original version this soup is delicious!

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