Roasting vegetables under intense dry heat adds a new layer of flavor beyond simple simmered stock in this Roasted Tomato Garlic Soup.
Dry roasting tomatoes in an oven is an easy method to access a depth of flavor that is inaccessible by simmering in a liquid base. Sugars inherent to the fruit begin to transform at high temperatures, and the dry environment serves to slightly dehydrate the flesh, further concentrating the taste. Bear in mind the intensity of sun-dried tomatoes.
Aromatics behave the same way, especially bulbs of fresh garlic. Under heat, the cloves slowly caramelize, soften and sweeten to almost a buttery consistency. (Some Italian recipes squeeze them out of their papery skins and spread them over toast as a condiment.) Their garlicy nature is tamed, and the flavor mellowed while still keeping the essence of the clove.
After roasting, other flavors are unlocked by simmering in wine. Certain flavor components in tomatoes are only soluble in alcohol, thus they must be cooked in some form (red wine, vodka, even beer) to extract these elements. Properly roasted, the vegetables should have a slight char at the tips without being blackened, another layer than is emphasized with Spanish smoked paprika. A touch of sugar can tame the natural acidity without being noticeable.
This basic recipe can easily be modified in many ways, with many other roasted vegetables and many other herbal additions. Fresh basil or oregano make great additions, as do a bare touch of acids such as citrus (lemon, orange) or vinegar (red wine, apple cider). Finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for an impressive result.
Tomato soups demand to be served with grilled cheese sandwiches. There is no room for argument here.
Roasted Tomato Garlic Soup
2 lb tomatoes (whole)
4 cloves of garlic
1 white onion
4 c chicken stock
¼ c red wine
1 t smoked paprika
1 t sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2 Roughly chop the tomato and onion (leave garlic cloves whole). Spread all out on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake uncovered for 30 min, enough to get a light char.
3 Add the roasted vegetables to a pot with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the wine and seasonings, and briefly sauté for 5-10 min.
4 Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 min.
5 Purée in batches until smooth. Strain out solids, if necessary.