This soup really blew me away. The amount of flavour that manages to get built into this relatively simple dish is impressive. It’s quite something. I actually had to remind myself that there wasn’t technically meat in this soup because the salty, almost smoky flavour fools you for a second. I say ‘technically’ because there is chicken broth in this recipe, which is the only thing that stops it from being vegan (assuming you forgo the pats of butter on top). Good-quality vegetable broth would not make much of a difference in the end product I imagine, as the flavour comes from the roasting of all the veg, not so much from the broth itself. I really did not believe that it was possible to find a recipe capable of rivaling my own tried-and-true version, but I ate my words pretty quickly (though not as quickly as I did this soup – honestly, it was like a drug).
BA’s Best: Roasted Tomato Soup
Taken from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks here and there
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ cup olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups good-quality chicken broth
2 large rosemary sprigs
3-4 thick-cut (1 inch+) slabs of crusty bread, such as sourdough
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Using your hands, crush the canned tomatoes into a single layer in a 13x9 inch baking dish, discarding the juices from the tomato can. Scatter the garlic cloves over the tomatoes along with ¼ cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then roast for 35-40 minutes, until the tomatoes are “jammy” (credit to Bon Appetit for this perfect word) and the garlic is golden. Leave the oven on.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high. Add the diced onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften (~ 5 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook for 25-30 more minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed. Trust me, you should not speed through the onion-cooking – it helps this soup develop some insaaaaaaane flavours. Once the onions have cooked down (they should be golden, but not overly dark in any way), add the tomato paste and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes/garlic along with the chicken broth and season. Bring everything to a boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 more minutes.
While the soup cooks, cut the bread slices into fat cubes and toss with the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. Strip the needles from the rosemary sprigs and toss with the bread cubes as well. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Toast the bread in the oven for 7-10 minutes, turning halfway through. I like my croutons a bit crunchier so that they really soak up the soup, but perhaps you like yours with a bit more give. Either way, the croutons can be pulled once they are golden-brown.
Working in batches (or not if using an immersion blender), puree the soup in a blender until it is very smooth. Don’t be a dummy and forget that hot things will explode when blended if you do not allow for periodic venting of the steam. Don’t be the person who scalds themselves making soup – it is not a sympathetic story. Pop that little circular part out of the blender lid and use a tea towel in its place, routinely lifting the towel to allow the steam to escape. Or bypass the whole risk-of-scalding thing by using an immersion blender – just make sure you blend for a full 5 minutes, getting into every area of the pot to ensure that no stray chunks have been left behind. Once the soup is completely pureed, taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
To serve the soup, ladle the soup into wide bowls and float ½ tbsp butter on top of each serving. Gently swirl the butter into the soup with the tip of a knife to get it to melt slightly. Place the croutons in a generous mound on top and use your fingers to crush the roasted rosemary needles into a fine dust over the bread. Watch for people’s facial expressions as they taste this soup – there should be a distinct moment of raised eyebrows and wide-eyed happiness. You’re welcome.