Tomato Soup by Susan Spungen

Tomato Soup

Admit it, you’re sick of tomatoes by the time the squash, kale, and apples start calling your name. I am too, kind of, but the truth is, they are at their most abundant and flavorful at this time of year, and keep on hanging on until the first hard frost. They are also at their reddest, juiciest and ripest selves in fall, so if you are really sick of tomato salads, and something warmer seems more appealing, make a big batch of roasted tomato soup, and put most of it in the freezer until some frigid winter day when the bright sunny flavor of tomatoes would be a most welcome and warming thing.

I like to roast the tomatoes first to concentrate their flavor, and you could stop right there and freeze the roasted tomatoes, freezing them in small resealable plastic bags for future use in pastas, soups, braised meat dishes or just about anything, or go all the way and make a big batch of pureed tomato soup.

The key to a good tomato soup is to make soup, and not pasta sauce. The addition of some other vegetables, like the classic soffrito and in this case eggplant, as well as chicken or vegetable stock will help veer the flavor into soup territory. Finish it off with milk or cream at serving time, and for something really indulgent, top it off with a gruyere topped crouton. What could be better than having your grilled cheese IN your tomato soup?

Cut the eggplant into cubes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 375° until nicely browned. Reduce oven temperature to 300°.

Cut tomatoes into thick slices, or in half, depending on how big they are, and toss with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a silpat. It’s OK if they’re crowded, because they’re going to shrink.

Place some garlic in a ramekin in a bit of oil to slowly roast alongside the tomatoes.

This is how the tomatoes should look when they’re done- it will take around 2 hours, but maybe more depending on the heat of your oven and how juicy the tomatoes are.

This is 2 sheet pans worth ready to go into the soup.

Roughly chop an onion and 2 carrots, and sweat in a little olive oil until soft. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic, along with any herbs that you want to use, and add enough stock to cover the ingredients by an inch or two. Simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes until the flavors are well developed. Let cool sightly and puree. I prefer to use an immersion blender, but if it doesn’t get it smooth enough, you may need to put it in the regular blender. It should be perfectly smooth. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze it until you are ready to serve it. Reheat, taste for seasoning (you may find you need a pinch of sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes). Finish with some cream or milk to thin it to the consistency you like and add a little creaminess. You don’t have to add dairy, you could just add more stock if needed, but it really brings the flavors together.

 

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