Tomato soup. One of my all time favorite soups. There is only a handful ingredients, but there are so many ways to get it right or not so right. The preparation of the ingredients makes all the difference between a so-so dish and a smack your lips gourmet soup. This is definitely the way to ‘do it right’. All the steps and the order are very important: plum tomatoes (out of a can, at this winter season) roasted in the oven with fresh carrots, shallots and a dash of brown sugar to get the deep, caramelized flavors, and starting the soup base with a tablespoon of butter (vegan or not, this is a must!), red pepper flakes brought back to life in the bubbling butter, garlic caramelized in the heated butter, all mixed up with some tomato paste and then thinned out with a jigger of lemon flavored vodka. The rest is easy. Salute!
Roasted plum tomato soup (makes 3 medium or 2 large servings):
Step1: Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, mix the plum tomatoes from the can (without their juice, save those juices for the soup or later!), the carrots, shallots, and brown sugar with a dash of ground black pepper, and arrange in a flat spread-out layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat (or aluminum foil). Place in the middle of the oven and roasted for 30 min. The sugars likely caramelize not only on the tomatoes but also on the mat.
While the tomato mix is roasting, prepare the soup base. In a large pot, melt the butter on medium heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes, before the butter turns it color (it should NOT get brown). Now, add the micro planed garlic, and constantly stir. The butter and garlic will get slightly brown, but only saute for about 1 min and then add tomato paste and mix in until it is all combined (it probably comes together in a tomato paste ball). Cook it like this for about 1 min, constantly stirring and breaking it up. Take pot of the heat (you don’t want the vodka to suddenly ignite), and add the vodka, stir it in the sauce, and bring the pot back to the heat, constantly stirring and mixing, for about 1 min.
Now, add the can of crushed tomatoes (crushed, not diced! If they diced, puree them first). Mix it all until the butter-garlic-tomato paste-vodka mixture is well combined with the crushed tomatoes. Add 1 cup of water with some bouillon (or 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock), and bring it to a simmer.
Once the roasted tomatoes are ready, add all of them and the onions and roasted carrots to the soup, and simmer for about 15min (last picture below).
Now, you can use an immersion blender and blend the soup or let it cool, and puree it in the vitamix, and then reheat. Once the soup is blended, stir in about 1 TB of creme fraiche or vegan sour cream or heavy cream. Serve with a dash of creme fraiche and pepitas.
Finest tomato soup, EVER.