I’ve spent most of my life truly disliking tomato soup. I can remember so vividly being served a bowl as a child during school lunch and having a really unpleasant reaction in front of my classmates. The taste, or lack thereof, and that moment still sticks with me today. Over the years, I’ve managed to try it time and time again, and although the reaction was not as severe, the memory still lingered. Eventually, I just settled on the fact that a taste for tomato soup was just something I would never develop.
During this past holiday season, though, it really started to bother me for some reason. Every time I would see a photo of someone enjoying a warm bowl with a sandwich on the side, it looked like the perfect comfort meal for lunch on a cold winter day. Why can’t I seem to enjoy something that is similar to so many other things I love? After all, I love tomatoes of all varieties. I love them whether they are fresh off the vine or roasted, thrown in a salad, used to create marinara sauce or salsa. I’ve even loved a few desserts using tomatoes. With all that in mind, how could I not like tomato soup? I finally decided to spend some time discovering that answer was relatively easy to find.
First off, I wanted to establish what I didn’t like about them. They were either too bitter or too bland. I want the robust flavor of the tomato to be front and center but I didn’t want it to stand there all alone. Secondly, I didn’t want to try and mask it with a bunch of punchy herbs or flavors. Basil, to me, had a tendency to be too overwhelming whereas thyme and oregano seemed to surround it as opposed to covering it up. Same with garlic. I love garlic but I wanted it to support it, not compete for the spotlight. Ultimately, I would basically take components of those tomato-centric dishes and sauces I love so much and use them to make a soup. I also felt like that if I could add a little carrot and roasted red pepper, a dash of paprika and chili pepper, I could round out the flavors and add some heat without masking anything. In the end, it worked! It’s definitely smoky but the savory aspects gave it some body while keeping a fresh tomato flavor. Roasting the tomatoes also gave it some nice added sweetness (as did the pinch of sugar!).
The nice thing about finally having a tomato soup I can enjoy, we’ve been able to branch out with it a bit based on suggestions for toppings from our kind readers on Instagram. This soup is perfect for cream, goat cheese, basil (on top), toasted pine nuts, and so many other options. Someone suggested mascarpone and I think that would be delicious. Feel free to suggest even more.
3 lbs Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tbsp for sautéing
1 tbsp kosher salt
1.5 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can(28 oz) canned whole tomatoes,
1 cup roasted red pepper, diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp whole fennel seed
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 pinch of sugar
Preheat the over to 400 F.
In a large mixing bowl, coat the Roma tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and toss together. Spread sliced side up on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
In a large stockpot or dutch oven* over medium heat, sauté onion and carrots until soft (approx 8 minutes). Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
Pour entire can of whole tomatoes, including juice, into the pot followed by the red pepper, herbs, spices and chicken stock. Add roasted tomatoes including any juices on the baking sheet. Bring to boil and then simmer uncovered for 40-45 minutes.
Remove bay leaf and then blend until smooth using an immersion blender**. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, stir and serve.
* We use a 5.75 qt oval Dutch oven
** A large blender or using a food mill would work too — be careful, it’s hot!)