In Which We Make Tomato Soup

Despite the fact that we live in Los Angeles, it is  February and it is cold in a relative sense (what, it totally hits the forties in the early mornings), so what better than a yummy soup for a warming winter meal? We made Smitten Kitchen’s (fabulous blog, by the way) Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar, and it was a perfect reminder that even in California, sometimes seasonal recipes are the way to go.

Of course, I’m playing hard and fast with the word seasonal, since this soup would probably be ideal in tomato season or right afterwards, but luckily the roasting gives all the tomatoes a wonderful tomato-y-ness they might not have if eaten fresh.

Tomatoes, ready for roasting.

Once you’ve roasted up all your tomatoes and a packet of garlic cloves (garlic being the one staple we always, always have in our kitchen), you blend everything up in a blender or a food processor, then cook away. It’s really fantastically simple.

Beautiful red tomato soup. Note that you let it be a little chunky.

And in the end, you broil some bread and cheddar over it, just because a good tomato soup really isn’t enough.

Mmmm….cheese.

It’s really good. I usually have soggy-bread problems with stuff like this (read: french onion soup), but the soup was so good I didn’t even mind. If you want to be all healthy and stuff and skip the cheese top, the soup is still good, but let me give you a word of advice – don’t. It’s awesome.

CHEESY GOODNESS.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar
From Smitten Kitchen.

We used sourdough bread for the topping to this soup, and it soaked up almost all the soup in the shallow bowl – but that wasn’t a bad thing. It was almost like bread and soup became one delicious, thick, cheesy bowl of goodness. I definitely recommend sticking it under the broiler, however, maybe a little earlier than recommended if you want crispier bread. We used store-bought chicken stock, but feel free to use vegetable and make this vegetarian!

Yield: 4 Servings

Soup
3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise<
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large or 4 small cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) dried crushed red pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Lid
4 1-inch slices from a large loaf of rye bread, whole wheat sourdough or bread of your choice (or 16 1-inch slices from a baguette), toasted until hard and lightly buttered on one side
1 tablespoon grated raw onion
1 cup coarsely grated cheddar (or more to taste) [We skipped this step, but feel free!]

Make soup: Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap garlic cloves in a tight foil packet. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper (I used 1 full teaspoon of Kosher salt). Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil. Add foil packet of garlic to tray. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender (garlic will be very tender), about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Unwrap garlic packet and peel cloves. Transfer cloves, tomatoes and any accumulated juices to a blender or food processor and pulse machine on and off until tomatoes are a chunky puree. Transfer tomatoes to medium pot and add thyme, crushed red pepper and stock and bring to a boil Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings to taste.

Create cheddar lid: Preheat oven to 350. Arrange four ovenproof soup bowls, crocks or large mugs on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Stir grated onion into the warm soup. (I love this last-minute suggestion of onion.) Float toast slice(s) in each bowl, buttered side up and divide grated cheese generously over top. (If you’re using a wide bowl, you might find that you want more cheese to create a thick, broiled lid.) Bake soups on tray for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese on top is bubbling and brown at the edges. If you’d like it even more bronzed on top, preheat your broiler and finish soups for a minute or two under it. Serve immediately.

Do ahead: Soup can be prepared one day ahead, and kept covered in the fridge. Rewarm before serving, or before finishing with cheddar crouton.

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