Once a cook discovers how simple in preparation yet vastly superior in quality basic tomato soup is, they will never return to a canned commercial version.
The secret to great tomato soup is to roast the tomatoes first using intense, dry heat. The roast begins to break down the flesh of the fruit as well as starts the caramelization of included natural sugars in ways that just simmering in a stock cannot. Literally any variety of tomatoes can be used with such a treatment, and combinations of different types and sizes can yield even better flavor results in the final product.
This particular recipe can be taken in many different directions and customized in many effective ways, and can serve as a starter for almost any other tomato-based soup. The texture can be left thick and chunky by using a food processor, or a hard purée in a blender or food mill can produce a soup as smooth as silk enhanced by just a touch of dairy. Expect the color to brighten beyond red to orange or almost pink as more air is whipped into the mix.
Diced tomato, raw or cooked, can be added for texture to the final simmer or at serving; likewise, the heat levels can be adjusted for personal taste. Perfect on its own as a basic tomato soup, stirring in a bit of pesto creates an instantly different soup as do additions of cilantro, lemon juice, minced jalapeño or diced ham.
Regardless of final garnishes (or lack thereof), tomato soup almost demands to be accompanied with a grilled cheese sandwich or some sort of cheesy crouton.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Pesto
2 lbs tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
1 yellow onion
4 c chicken stock
½ c half-and-half
red pepper flakes
1 Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2 Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Spread out vegetables on a sheet pan, add salt and olive oil, and toss to coat. Roast for 30 min or at least until the tips begin to blacken.
3 Transfer roasted vegetables to a pot with the stock and add 2 T olive oil, bay leaf and season to taste with red/black pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 min.
4 Remove the bay leaf and purée in batches until smooth. Return to the pot, stir in the dairy and adjust seasoning.
Serve with a spoonful of prepared pesto.