Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Listen, I know that no one wants to turn on their oven right now, let alone eat soup. But for some of you, it’s winter. And maybe others of you have really fantastic air conditioning systems, so eating a giant bowl of soup in the height of the summer heat ain’t no thang. Or perhaps some of you are so desperate to use up your tomatoes in creative ways that the thought of turning on your oven and then eating soup doesn’t even phase you. I fall into that last category, and so, soup’s on.
This recipe has you roasting the tomatoes, onions, and garlic beforehand to add some depth that might be left out when you just cook it all together on the stove top. I really wouldn’t know, as I don’t think I’ve ever made a traditional smooth tomato soup with fresh tomatoes. But I like to think I know a thing or two about how food works, and roasting just about always gives me tasty results.
Don’t worry, this shouldn’t make you too much larger.
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
3 large tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 a large onion, cut into chunks
3 large garlic cloves, skins left on
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
4 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 – 2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine, this one has a nice buttery flavor)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt, to taste (depending on the saltiness of your veggie broth)
fresh cracked pepper
Handful of halved cherry tomatoes
A cup or so of cooked chunky pasta, whatever you have on hand
Preheat your oven to 400F while you prep your tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Spread them all out together on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to distribute oil evenly (I use my hands, they are the best tool, after all). Put those in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are soft and the tomatoes are getting melty.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta (be smart and use the same pot you’re going to blend up the soup in, a large sauce pot will do), pick your basil, and halve those cherry tomatoes. The pasta and extra tomatoes can be optional add-ins, by the way. I just wanted to add some texture and make it a bit more hearty. Once the roasties are done roasting, add them (make sure you squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins!), the basil, and the broth (I use a broth powder mixed with water), and blend it all up with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender (get one!), you could dirty up your regular blender, then add all those ingredients to the soup pot. So then, heat it over medium-high heat. It shouldn’t take long to get going, as the tomatoes and such will still be mega hot from the oven. Once it’s nice and hot, add the tomato paste, margarine, sugar (lower amount first), salt, and pepper, and stir until it’s all nicely incorporated. Taste for salt and sugar, add pasta and cherry tomatoes, and serve! Serves 4.
A note on how much salt I put in my recipes: I use a low sodium broth powder because it’s the only broth powder I can find and it’s cheaper and more convenient that bouillon cubes or pre-made veggie broth. Therefore, I usually tend to add at least 50% more salt than my recipes say. I also tend to be a salty dog anyway, and add extra salt to just about every recipe I make from cookbooks. I’m putting this out there in case anyone else is a sea monster and needs extra salt in their lives (blah blah, low sodium, blah blah) – taste the recipe first, and if it needs more salt, then add it. If it tastes bland, add the extra salt before you think it’s gross! Salt makes everything better! That being said, I know that many people don’t like their food as salty as I like mine, which is why I always give you the lowest amount in the written recipes. And remember that you can always add more salt, but making something less salty is…just about impossible, unless you want to make a double batch of whatever it is on the fly. No thanks. Has anyone tried a recipe of mine as written and thought it needed way more? Or way less? Just curious.
So anyway, tomato basil soup! Like I said in my last post, the combination of tomato and basil hits it out of the ball park every time (I’m finally in the correct season for my terrible sports analogies). The added tomato paste gives it that teensy bit of oomph that just regular old tomatoes don’t have, and the margarine makes it rich and sumptuous. As for the sugar, I’ve been told that you always need to add a little bit of sugar to a dish that contains mostly tomatoes just to cut the acid, and I find it to be true. I add it to my marinara, and it always turns out better, even though it takes all my willpower to add sugar to delicious savory things (I’m afraid of ruining them! Savory things with too much sweetness are so not my thing!).
We ate this with roasted potatoes (glutton for punishment over here) the first night (truth: I didn’t add the pasta until lunch the next day, for some oomph), and sweated gloriously on the couch the whole time. It was…worth it? Listen, I’m so gross by this point of the summer that I’m not even worried about it. My fried Phil calls summer ‘The Great Equalizer’, because we’re all disgusting and sweaty together (though some of us *ahem* more than others *sigh*). Might as well gobble up some soup, because it’s not going to get any better for at least a month, people.
Confession: One reason I’m showing you so many pictures of this (because, lets face it, soup isn’t always that cute, especially blended soups) is because I got a new wooden soup spoon this spring. My mom and I always go to the craft fair at the Strawberry Festival in my home town (and this year my niece came along, she’s getting old enough to do boring things with her Aunt Jessica, yay!), and this year there was a great display of wooden utensils. I get my obsession with handmade wooden cooking tools honest, because my mom has the biggest collection of them I’ve ever seen. And I’m jealous, so every time I see them for sale, I try to buy at least one thing (they can be pricey, but they last so long and are so beautiful and make cooking better, your argument is invalid). These were priced so low that I was able to buy a large wooden spoon for stirring and this tiny one for eating! It makes me feel like a cavewoman or a pioneer woman or a woman who lives in the woods and never sees any other human beings except her grocery delivery boy, and I’m totally fine with feeling like any of those women at any given moment.