I worked on this recipe for a year or two. It wasn’t that I wanted to reinvent tomato soup; I just wanted a hearty soup with plenty of flavor.
This soup has the flavor to hold up to a good grilled cheese… It’s chunky, but not overly so, and it has cream, but not too much. As with all tomato soups, the humble tomato is the star of the show. So, care must be taken to choose the right variety. I choose canned tomatoes, and I’ll explain my reasoning later.
I’ve done a lot of research on tomatoes; especially canned tomatoes. Here are two things that I’ve posted on that subject. If you have time to read them, they give you a lot of good information on working with canned tomatoes.
I’ve chosen canned tomatoes for two reasons:
1. Good garden-fresh tomatoes are not available year round.
2. Good (the operative word being good) canned tomatoes just might be better than you think.
Here’s what you need for this recipe:
• Good canned tomatoes
• Whole tomatoes, and peeled
• Packed in juice
AND THE WINNER IS: Cento, San Marzano (DOP Certified), Peeled Tomatoes, Vine Ripened. The tomatoes are consistent in size, whole without any broken ones, and the juice they are packed in is thick… Almost like a puree. I found this to be the best canned tomatoes for this recipe.
Gather Your Ingredients.
Drain the tomatoes, and reserve 1 cup of the packing liquid.
Place a rack in the upper position, and preheat the oven to 425f (220c).
Cut the tomatoes in half, and lay them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side up.
Sprinkle the coconut (or brown) sugar evenly over the tomatoes.
Place in the preheated oven and cook until the tomatoes begin to color, and the sugars start to caramelize, about 25 – 30 minutes.
Chef’s Note: Do not allow them to overly brown, or burn.
Chef's Note: Remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.
Add them to a blender, or a food processor fitted with an S-blade, and give them a few 1-second pulses. Or, you could always give them a rough chop with a kitchen knife.
Chef’s Note: Leave them a bit chunky.
Reserve for later in the recipe.
Add the olive oil and butter to a large pot over medium heat, and allow the butter to melt.
Add the onions, to the pot.
Cook until softened and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Chef’s Note: Do not let the onions brown.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds.
Add the 1-cup of reserved juice from the tomatoes, and the chicken stock.
Bring the mixture to a light simmer.
Add the tomatoes to the pot, and continue to lightly simmer.
Add the basil, thyme, salt, and cayenne.
Allow the soup to simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the cream, and allow the mixture to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Chef's Note: Remove from the heat, and test for any additional seasoning.
Chef’s Tip: Besides the tomatoes, the ingredients that will influence the final taste of this dish the most are the salt, and the cream. I usually use a bit more salt because I like that way it reacts with the acidic tomatoes, and I think the cream helps to mellow out all of the flavors. My advice on the cream is to add 1 or 2 tablespoons and then give it a taste. Continue to add more cream until you reach the desired results. Or, you could leave the cream out altogether… totally up to you.
Chef’s Note: If you are planning on freezing this soup, then don’t add the cream. When you pull it out of the freezer, heat it up and add the cream at that point.
Serve while nice and warm, maybe with a nice grilled cheese on the side. In addition, you could have a bit of balsamic vinegar on hand, and allow your guests to splash some in the soup.Enjoy.
Keep the faith, and keep cooking.
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