Punxsutawney Phil, groundhog, was clearly mistaken. While he may not have seen his shadow on Tuesday and predicted an early spring, this morning was 30 degrees and chilly. It’s a good thing you’re adorable, Phil! (Side note: did you know that Phil lives in the town library? And that he has a wife named Phyllis? You can’t make this stuff up.)
But this chilly weather definitely has it’s perks, like being able to make large, fresh batches of soup to eat, share, and freeze! This week’s choice was Ina Garten’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. Ina (can I call you Ina, Ina?) has wonderful dishes and her book Back to Basics, is one that I refer to often. Her cooking philosophy calls for simple, seasonal ingredients and always incorporates fresh herbs into her dishes, and this recipe is no exception.
While the cook time for the dish is lengthy, the actual prep time only takes about 15 minutes. Take three pounds of fresh plum tomatoes, slice in half, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then roast until their skin is browned and crisp. In the meantime, saute onions and garlic with seasonings and fresh basil and thyme, then combine all your ingredients, like chicken stock and extra canned tomatoes, and let everything simmer for 40-45 minutes. I do add a tablespoon of brown sugar at the end, just to add a hint of sweetness, and then use an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients together (but a regular blender or food mill will work just fine). The best part about this dish is that I am able to freeze individual portions and heat them up over the next few weeks, which means that I’m happy, Tyler’s happy, and Phil can keep his day job.
- 3 lbs ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 quart chicken stock or water
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
- In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.