Friday, December 24, 2010

Mm mmm, Good!

This soup doesn't really have a story. It's just really, REALLY yummy--exactly what The Gooj and I were craving on a cold winter's night. Roasting the tomatoes before adding them to the soup brings out their rich tomatoey goodness in all its glory, and pureeing the soup in a blender (once you get it going, you'll really want to whip it up) gives it a lush, creamy texture that needs only 1/3 a cup of cream to take it to a celestial soup consistency. You can even make it without the fresh tomatoes--just use three cans of tomatoes instead of two.

There is a lovely picture to go with this, but with a dial-up internet connection... that's not happening. Someday, you shall see. Or make it yourself! It's pretty! And festive! Red soup with green basil just yells, "Merry Christmas!" or perhaps... "Eat me right now!" Both are happy holiday sentiments, don't you think?

Cream of Tomato Soup
Adapted from The New Best Recipe from America's Test Kitchen

4-6 small garden or roma tomatoes, sliced thick or halved
2 (14.5-ounce) cans whole stewed tomatoes, drained, 2 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 green onion, diced
2 small cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice (about 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can chicken broth or stock
1/3 cup whipping cream
small pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

For Serving
Fresh basil, chiffonaded
Grated cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With a strainer set in bowl, strain canned tomatoes, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread tomatoes in single layer on foil. Cut fresh tomatoes to be about an inch thick. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly; careful peel the skins off of fresh tomatoes (they should come off easily after roasting). Discard skins and transfer tomatoes to a small bowl and set aside. 

2. Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foamy. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Gradually add chicken broth, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover with a lid, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer half of the soup to blender and VERY CAREFULLY (it's rather hot soup. Hot soup + skin = ouchie burning.). Start blender very low slowly raise speed; puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture in a bowl and add the remaining soup to the blender. Again, carefully puree until smooth. Rinse saucepan and put both batches of puree back in pan.  Whisk in cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Do NOT boil. Off heat, season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately with fresh basil and a little sprinkling of cheese, if you so desire.

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