Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Summertime brings certain joys that can only be had during this time. One of them is tomatoes. Gardeners slave over growing tomatoes annually and some years do better than others, for no apparent reason. Seattle’s had a crazy hot and dry summer thus far, but my tomatoes haven’t done very well. I didn’t let that deter me from enjoying a delicious tomato soup. I went to a local farm stand to gather fresh Romas.

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I like to char the tomatoes on the grill to get a great flavor for the soup. Toss them in some brown sugar to help with caramelization.

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Use a canned tomato sauce for variety of flavors as well. If you have a favorite pasta sauce, you can add that instead of plain crushed tomatoes. As always, quality matters. San Marzano tomatoes taste much better than canned Safeway tomatoes. Must be the Italian freshness. I haven’t noticed a difference between store brands, Del Monte, H&W, etc but I have for sure with San Marzano tomatoes from the brand Cento.

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Make some fresh bread to go with it or crostini to add a great companion to this soup.

Immersion blenders don’t get the soup quite as smooth as I like it, so I put it in the Blendtec in small batches to puree it after it simmered.

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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

10-12 large Roma tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup olive oil
1 T salt
2 t pepper
2 T brown sugar
2T olive oil and 3T butter
2 cups of onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic (roasted cloves are best)
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups of packed fresh basil, roughly chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12″ sprig of fresh oregano
1 quart of chicken stock
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes or your favorite tomato based pasta sauce

Toss tomatoes in oil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Let it sit for 20 minutes or so. Fire up the grill on medium-high. Cook them, flipping occasionally to get a good charring on them, about 10 minutes.

Add onion to large heavy bottomed pot after heating oil and butter on medium for a bit. Saute for 5 minutes until starting to brown. Add garlic and pepper flakes, stirring for a minute to prevent garlic from burning. Add herbs stock and tomatoes. Simmer 45 minutes.

Keep the soup chunk or ladle it into your blender in small batches to puree it smooth.

Serve with crusty bread and maybe a dollop of creme fraiche.

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