After our first course of Christmas dinner, the picture above was exactly what I had in mind. Fresh, thick, bright red roasted tomato soup, with strong hints of garlic, garnished with basil and parmesan. The kind that warms the soul when the rain is batting against the windows, and each step outside is a slop! slop! in the slushy puddles splattering all over your new jeans – it’s easy to catch a chill then, and a warm soup was just the cure to take away some of the grumpies of the long Wintery week.
In a desperate attempt to call back the gods of Summer to return upon us with sunshine and warm temperatures, I enthusiastically purchased just about every bio (organic) fresh vegetable I could find in the store that weekend. I found myself with a couple dozen tomatoes and thought, even if it isn’t Summer outside, maybe we can direct a few of those last rays of sunshine hidden from us by the ever threatening clouds, and have them warm our stomachs if nothing else by preparing a fresh soup. Sorry Winter Solstice, as cool as you were with an eclipse and all, I still miss my sunshine.
I wanted thick and hearty form of tomato soup. So I changed the recipe a bit from the one I was basing my “Summer invocation in a pot” off of, and definitely ended up with thick soup:
It was spoon standing straight up thick! I probably could have added cream like the recipe said, or added in a few more cups of broth like the recipe said, but whatever. I wanted something I could curl up with, my great-grandmother’s hand-made quilt wrapped around me, thinking of the sunshine. This was perfect. A few quickly chiffonaded basil leaves and some sliced parmesan to garnish the top and we had our perfect soup for our 2nd course of Christmas dinner.
Well, until I realized that soup this thick was probably an awesome sauce. Over the next few days, we had it over pasta with some truffle oil. We had it on toasted bread and olive oil. I even used it to serve steamed mussels. I have to name this soup one of the most versatile creations ever, because I am still coming up with ways to use it. Next Summer when the tomatoes are really out and about, I am going to make a gazillion batches of this soup/sauce and then preserve it all to be enjoyed during these chillier and darker months.
Who knows – maybe then we’ll be on a warm tropical beach somehwere, instead of watching the full moon disappear before our eyes (of which I sadly missed even the tiniest glimpse – boo stupid clouds and grumpy weather!), we’ll be on the sand watching it rise bright and full, a midnight sun.
So when the next Winter Solstice arrives, with this dish we hopefully won’t have to be left merely imagining Summer, we might have a little way to revive it as well, if only for the moment the soup graces our lips and dances on our tongues.
Adapted from Tyler Florence, as seen on the Food Network
Prep Time: 10 min for chopping veggies
Total Time 2 hrs
2 dozen medium sized tomatoes, sliced in half horizontally
2 red bell peppers, sliced in half
salt & pepper
olive oil (about 1/2 -3/4 cup in total, depending on how heavy you are with drizzling on the to-be-roasted tomatoes)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 medium sized onions, roughly chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs. sugar
1 tbsp. Italian herbs
salt & pepper
1. Preheat an oven to 400F. Place tomatoes and bell peppers on a baking sheet cut side up. Salt & pepper them and drizzle some olive oil (this will use around 1/2 cup) on top. Roast in the oven until they are soft and beginning to char, about an hour.
2. Meanwhile, heat up a large skillet with a couple tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions until softened.
3. When the tomatoes and bell peppers are done, take them out of the oven, remove any charred outside bits, and then purée the tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and garlic together.
4. Transfer the purée to a large pot, adding in the vegetable broth, sugar, and herbs. Season to taste with more salt & pepper as needed. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer, and let simmer about 20 minutes covered.