Friday, December 21, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup

As endless summer fades into endless autumn, and again into what can only be termed "Winter" by a person who has never actually lived through one,  it comes time for soups! The occasional 'cold snap'- literally, a day or two when temperatures drop to- gasp!- below 60 and sunny- require a warm and comforting dish like this to keep you "warm".

 And of all the delicious soup combos- tomato soup and grilled cheese- that is the golden classic. This soup was simple and delicious- another winner adapted from 'A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen' by Jack Bishop.

2 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
3 medium leeks, whites and greens, washed and cut into thin strips
1 tbsp sun-dried/double strength tomato paste (Get the italian stuff that is imported and comes in a toothpaste tube. It's the only way to go)
2 tbsp flour
2 cups vegetable broth
cayenne pepper
fresh basil, cut "chiffonade" (roll it up and cut into thin ribbons)
Fresh or dried oregano
heavy cream for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Prepare a rimmed baking dish by lining with tinfoil. Drain the tomatoes from the juice in a sieve, collecting the juice in a bowl below. Open the tomatoes one at a time, and use your thumb to slide out the seeds and any juice on the inside into the strainer. Set the bowl aside for later. Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roast until all liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes begin to color. Discard the seeds in the strainer and reserve the juice in the bowl for later.

2. Melt the butter in the bottom of the soup pot. Add the leeks and salt and pepper, and allow to cook down over medium-low heat. Add the tomato paste, 3/4 of the basil, and oregano, and continue cooking, stirring often. Add the flour and stir for another minute, then slowly add in the vegetable broth, using a whisk to constantly stir. Add the juice and roasted tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.

3. Use either a magic wand or hand blender to puree the soup until perfectly smooth. Adjust the seasoning, adding in cayenne and salt to taste.

4. Serve and garnish with a tbsp of the heavy cream drizzled on top and a sprinkle of the fresh basil ribbons.

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