It's Tomato Harvest Time; In Fact, It's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup Time!

It's harvest time and it is unbelievable what a few tomato plants can produce.  And when I look at the lack of care and attention they have been subject to from me, I can only imagine how much larger the bounty could have been had I taken interest in their well-being. Thank goodness my wife spends time nurturing the plants, or else they'd be mere memories of the bedding plants they once were.

But tomatoes we have a-plenty and now the test is on as to how to use all of them.

I like them sliced with a dash of fresh ground pepper, some chives and a wee little bit of salt.

But I really love tomato soup, a lot. From Mom's homemade to the much, and I might say unfairly maligned, Campbell's Tomato Soup, to this recipe below.  Tres yummy, all of them...

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 lbs tomatoes, cored and cut in half (Roma, beefsteak, cherry bells, type matters not really)

3 Tbsp butter (olive oil can be used, but butter adds so much more to this soup)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups yellow or sweet onion, chopped (about1 large onion)
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and chopped
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup minced chives
2 cups yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tin (5 oz) tomato paste
6  cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable stock if you like, not as good, but you can use it)
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp finely minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream) - This can be omitted, but I like it!!!
1 Tbsp sugar (optional, but it can add depth, I use it)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F

Lightly sprinkle sliced tomatoes with salt and oil the baking tray with the olive oil.

Place sliced tomatoes on baking tray, roast for about 30 minutes, or until slightly charred.

Place a 6 quart pot over medium heat, melt butter then add onion, garlic, red pepper, chives, potato and carrots - sauté, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent.

Add the tomato paste and stir constantly until the tomato paste begins to darken.

Add roasted tomatoes, thyme, 1/2 of the fresh basil, cayenne, and the chicken broth, stir well to incorporate.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Once potatoes are soft, blend soup mixture using an immersion blender, continue until a smooth/velvety texture is achieved.

Add heavy cream, sugar, salt and pepper to taste, continue to heat but do not bring to a boil.

Once soup is at temperature use your taste buds as a guide to determine if you would like to add more or all of the remaining fresh basil.  I think the basil should be a background complement to the tomatoes, not the star of the show, but use more or less as you like. It is your soup after all.

Serve hot and garnish with whatever floats your boat. I like grilled cheese sammies with my tomato soup and you should too!

Can we stop here and talk for a minute? 

When cooking with tomatoes there are two schools of thought; one school likes the seeds removed and the other school doesn't care - I'm in the ‘I don't care school’.  But if you are, you can slice the tomatoes lengthwise and squeeze the seeds out before roasting them. I will admit it does make for a smoother soup, and along with coring the tomatoes it may add to your tomato soup enjoyment level if you do.  It is your call.