I love many vegetables, but the tomato is probably my favorite. Disregarding the fact that it is technically a fruit and is only considered a vegetable today because politicians at the turn of the century classified it as a vegetable to either avoid fruit taxes or earn vegetable taxes (same old, same old…), I can’t get enough of them! I’m probably biased because I grew up on my mom’s homemade canned tomatoes, which she and my dad use to make great big batches of spaghetti sauce that bubbled on the stove all Sunday long. That sort of excellence in cuisine tends to instill an instinctual love for the main ingredient. Any way you serve them – cut up with salt and pepper, mixed into a simple compote of scallions and Italian vinaigrette, sliced for a Caprese salad, sautéed into a ratatouille, sliced into a BLT sandwich, diced into a Niçoise salad, cooked down for hours into the family spaghetti and meatball recipe, or popped whole (cherry-sized!) into your mouth, they’re just darn good. If manna is food from the gods, then are tomatoes fruit from the gods?
This soup was inspired by a delicious roasted red pepper soup which I made last December (sorry for the lack of photos, but it’d just be a big bowl of red gushiness like this photo shows), which I decided to spice up by adding roasted tomatoes. Actually, I had a few tomatoes that were hitting their mid-life crisis, and I needed to cook them up somehow before old age set in and I’d be forced to throw them out. And while I had the oven on, I figured I should roast up some garlic. Why not? The result was creamy and silky-smooth, sweet and spicy at the same time, and just a warm bowl of comfort. Eat this when your body needs to be fed and loved – warmed from the inside out.
- 2 red peppers, roasted and skins removed, de-seeded and de-ribbed
- 2 tomatoes, roasted for 30-45 minutes at 450F, with the teeniest bit of white sugar on top
- 2 garlic cloves, roasted ~20 minutes with skins on, then push the squishy, sweet insides outside
- 1/4 vidalia onion
- 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- generous dash vermouth
- chicken stock, warmed to room temperature
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Roast the peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. The peppers can rest on the oven rack by themselves, but put the tomatoes and garlic on a foil-lined baking sheet. Remove the peppers when they blacken all over (turn once during cooking), then cover them with plastic wrap for five minutes to steam them before peeling off the skin. While the veggies are roasting, sauté the onion in the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a scant medium heat until soft and slightly browned – but don’t go so far as to caramelize (well, I guess you could, but I didn’t here). Add the vermouth and deglaze the pan. Add the peppers, tomatoes, and garlic into the pan, then enough chicken stock to cover the vegetables or to your desired consistency (I like my soup relatively thick). Sprinkle in salt and pepper, then let the soup simmer for a few minutes so all the flavors can infuse into one another. Using a hand blender or a standing blender, purée the soup, then adjust seasoning.
I served my soup with whole-wheat ciabatta bread spread with strained plain, nonfat yogurt. It was the perfect accompaniment to this soup, but do what you like. I didn’t feel the soup needed anything as garnish – like croutons, cheese, basil, or whatnot – but I leave that up to you. For me, simple is good.