Thursday, March 29, 2018

Homegrown Tomato Soup


I grew tomatoes in my garden last year for the very first time. I remember going to the local plant nursery in late spring and spending literally hours agonizing over which tomato plant varieties I should buy for the newly constructed raised bed in our backyard. Would I want lots of cherry or grape tomatoes? Red ones or yellow ones? Green zebra striped heirlooms or San Marzanos? Beefsteak or Roma? I wanted them all, but I knew we only had room for about eight plants. And so, I settled on eight little plants whose tags promised varying sizes, shapes, and colors of tomatoes come late summer.
Fast forward through a summer filled with lots of watering, staking, pruning, mulching, stressing over, and fawning over those tomato plants to now. In late autumn, my tomato plants were just about done producing fruit for the season. I cannot say for sure if I think my crop yield was worth all of my time, money, effort, worries, and love I put into those plants. But what I can say is that the satisfaction of making this roasted tomato soup using all of my very own homegrown tomatoes certainly was.
Use any variety of tomatoes you have for this soup. Big ones, little ones, pretty ones, or ugly ones. They can be super ripe or not quite ripe yet. You can’t really go wrong. Instead of adding cream or milk (like many tomato soup recipes do), this recipe uses the addition of creamy, protein-rich cannellini beans. So for all you dairy-free folks, this one is a keeper. And do make the garlicky croutons. It’s totally worth the extra few minutes.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlicky Croutons
serves 4
For the Soup:
4 pounds of tomatoes in various sizes
1 large yellow onion
8-10 garlic cloves
olive oil
sea salt
1 14 oz can of cannellini beans
10 large leaves of fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1-2 cups (approximately) water or broth of choice
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the large tomatoes into wedges, the medium sized tomatoes in half, and leave cherry-sized tomatoes whole. Arrange them on parchment-lined baking sheets in a single layer. Peel and slice the onion and arrange the slices over the tomatoes. Peel the garlic cloves and add the whole cloves to the tomatoes and onion. Drizzle everything with olive oil, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and toss to coat everything. Bake in the oven for about an hour or more until the tomatoes start to get wrinkly and the onion is starting to caramelize a bit.
  2. When the tomatoes are nicely roasted, remove them from the oven and let them cool a bit. Transfer them to a soup pot, along with any juices that collected on the pans. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and add them to the pot, along with the basil leaves.
  3. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is creamy, adding water or broth a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and season with salt as needed. Bring soup back up to a simmer to warm it up and serve topped with croutons (recipe below), torn basil leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil.
For the Croutons:
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb seasoning
olive oil
sea salt
5 big slices of rustic whole grain sourdough bread (or other bread of choice) 
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop the garlic very finely and put it in a mixing bowl. Add the Italian seasoning, about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Stir to combine.
  2. Cut the bread into 1” cubes. Add them to the oil mixture in the bowl and toss to evenly coat the bread.
  3. Arrange the oiled bread cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Grate Parmesan cheese over the cubes to give them a nice dusting. Bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, tossing them halfway through the cooking time to promote even toasting. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before adding them to the soup.

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