VELVETY ROASTED TOMATO & BASIL SOUP

“In November, people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other’s homes and talk by crackling woodstoves, sipping mellow cider. They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings – for the food on their tables and the babies in their arms.” – Cynthia Rylant

While in theory, November is still fall. Often in the Upper Peninsula it masquerades as winter. This year Mother Nature unleashed her fury mid-October with wild winds and large snow accumulations in some areas of Marquette County. In Skandia we received several inches of heavy, slushy snow and the wind gusts tore large branches off of a handful of apple trees in our orchard. The winds were so mighty that I worried about damage being inflicted on our hoop house, however, it stood up to the gales. 

Unfortunately, this fall I also lost a lot of green tomatoes in our hoop house. Last year I had a bumper crop of tomatoes, and this year they did not want to ripen. I hauled a few buckets of green ones into the house in hopes that they would ripen (and to make a batch of green salsa). In spite of the fact that my tomatoes were not extremely fruitful, I still was able to can over a dozen quarts of roasted tomatoes and several quarts of spaghetti sauce. 

Incidentally, the roasting technique that I share with you today, not only makes an unforgettable bowl of tomato soup, but it’s also a great way to can your tomatoes. However, you do not have to use a canner to preserve your garden goodness, you can freeze them. This is a great technique if you do not have a large crop coming in at once. You can put up a small batch every week, or every other week. 

ROASTED TOMATOES

Toss the tomatoes in a Pyrex baking dish (I do not cut the cherry/grape/pear tomatoes). Add a drizzle of olive oil, chopped celery, onion, bell pepper, crushed garlic, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. You can also add a little sugar to cut the acid.

Roast at 425 degrees for an hour (stirring a couple times).

After roasting you can put them into your canner or freeze.


Freezer method:
Once cool you can ladle into Mason jars making sure to not waste a single drop of the juice ( I leave an inch of headspace at the top so the jars don’t crack) and they go into the freezer. You can also use freezer bags (freeze flat) if you have limited freezer room. (Trust me, you can freeze jars, I do it all the time for leftover soup). 

Your house will smell amazing and the final result is absolutely incredible! Roasting intensifies and concentrates the tomatoes and makes them robust and flavorful. These tomatoes make a wicked bowl of tomato soup, chili, or pasta sauce.

Trust me, they are so good they might not make it into your freezer.

*Note – Leaving the skins on saves not only time, but nutrients as well. The skin contains healthy nutrients and antioxidants. I find that when I prepare dishes with the roasted tomatoes, the skins virtually disappear. The picky eaters in my family do not even mind them. 

ROASTED TOMATO & BASIL SOUP

*For this recipe you will need approximately a quart of tomatoes per bowl of soup.

*Roast the tomatoes using the above method
*While still hot ladle into blender
*Add heavy cream or half-and-half (approximately ¼ cup per bowl)
*Add a handful of fresh basil (dried if you do not have access to fresh or a couple spoonfuls of jarred pesto sauce)
*Blend until smooth
*Add salt and pepper to taste
*Optional – If your tomatoes taste acidic, you can add a couple spoonfuls of sugar
*Optional – To thin out the soup or stretch it out, you can add either chicken or vegetable stock (to the consistency you desire). I prefer to leave it thick.This soup begs to be eaten with a toasted grilled cheese sandwich or a healthy handful of croutons floating on the top.

As winter heads our way, make sure you check out my other soup recipes on the tabs at the top of the page. While it is always soup season in our house, winter is the perfect time to warm up with a comforting bowl of soup. It is a great way to get your vegetables in and the options are endless. Stay warm, stay safe, and remember to take care of yourself and each other!


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