One of the things I have come to recognise about eating seasonally, is that it comes with an unavoidable sense of longing. In the name of reducing air miles and chemicals used on food by supporting local farmers and their delicious tasting produce, in the middle of winter it tends to be served with a big old realistic helping of “oh right, this again.” I mean, there are only so many different ways to dress up a root vegetable come February. And what I wouldn’t give for a juicy garden tomato, fresh blueberry, or sweet crunchy stalk of asparagus by that time of year….
BUT picking up out of season produce in the fresh section of the grocery store right now only leads to disappointment- both in flavour, and in budget. In short, unless you’re children cannot possibly live their life without FRESH blueberries in their oatmeal in the dead of winter (in which case you get a free pass on that one in my book because we all do what it takes to get ourselves out the door in the morning without our heads imploding), I think it’s best to avoid the forbidden fresh fruits (and veg) as much as possible and make do with the frozen and tinned section which are all picked whilst in season.
Which brings me to the point of this article- did you know you can get almost the same effect roasting whole tinned tomatoes that you can roasting fresh ones??? That sweet, charred, carmalised super tomato-y flavour that makes pasta sauces and soups that much more satisfying also works with the tinned stuff, making it a worthwhile and inexpensive endeavor when it comes to making homemade tomato soup at a time of year where tomatoes aren’t growing on vines in gardens. I know, Campbells is fine in a pinch, but by making the soup yourself you get the added bonus of having a house that smells basically like pizza- never a bad thing in my book. I realise the image above of roasted tinned tomatoes may not the most beautiful, but trust me when I say the smells and tastes well made up for it.
Roasted Tomato Soup- Winter Edition
2 tins whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained with sauce reserved, and seeds removed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
extra virgin olive oil for roasting
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 white onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, kept whole with skins on
1 stalk celery, diced with excess strings peeled off
500ml (21/4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
120ml (1/2 cup) single cream *optional*
Preheat your oven to 180C/360F. Scoop out the whole tomatoes from the tin and reserve the liquid. Open up each tomato and gently scrape out as many seeds as possible before placing onto a baking tray or dish. Sprinkle with dried herbs and olive oil.
On a second tray or dish add your peeled and sliced carrots, onion celery and garlic cloves (skin on), and drizzle generously with olive oil and sea salt.
Pop these both into the oven- I kept the tomatoes on top and the veg below but if your oven is big enough you could do this side-by-side- just keep checking your onions don’t catch and burn. If they start to, turn the oven down – give them a stir and consider moving the tomato tray on the rack above the vegetables to help reduce direct heat. Roast for approx. 40 minutes or until tomatoes have become deeper in colour and the vegetables have completely softened. It’s likely the juices from the tomatoes will burn a little bit around the edges as in the above photo. The dish still turns out just fine, don’t worry.
Carefully remove the skins from the garlic, tip all ingredients into a heavy bottomed pot over a medium low heat. Pour in your preferred stock, cover most of the way with a lid and let the dish simmer for a further hour. Tip into a blender once cooled or use a stick blender to create your smooth, creamy soup. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
This soup may be a bit acidic for your taste. If so pour in a bit of cream to finish, helping balance out the flavours.
Serve with a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper, homemade roughly torn croutons (roughly tear bread- brioche in this case, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and place in a 180C/360F oven for approx 10-15 minutes or until golden and crispy). Also optional garnish: a grilled cheese sandwich. And maybe a pickle. Classic American childhood comfort food.