I can’t believe it’s 75 degrees here in Dallas right now just 4 days before Christmas! Never the less, there was a slight chill in the air last Sunday and I was craving a steaming bowl of tomato basil soup. I came up with this recipe on the fly last weekend using just what I had on hand and taking a few cues from my favorite tomato sauce recipe. This came together in no time and the result was a luxurious soup that was bursting with bright tomato flavor.
If you are a silky tomato soup purist then you might want to use an immersion blender and then strain your soup through a fine mesh sieve. But a silky tomato purist I am not. I love the varied texture of the canned and fresh roasted tomatoes together after they’ve cooked way down. And the pop of the seeds from the roasted tomatoes in my mouth adds another layer of unsuspected texture. I feel that a soup like this which is so uniform in flavor- is much more interesting to eat when there is an un-uniform texture to add intrigue.
Plus did I mention this recipe is one on the easiest I have ever posted? Enjoy.
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1 28 oz. can of San Marzano Tomatoes
6 cloves of Garlic
3 medium Tomatoes
2 tbs Butter
16 oz. Vegetable Stock
1 large shallot (or substitute half of one yellow onion)
1 large bunch of Fresh Basil (about 2 cups of loosely packed leaves)
1/2 tbs of Dried Thyme
Olive oil for tomatoes
Salt to taste
**One side note before we get started- I was inspired by my favorite tomato sauce recipe which calls for one large yellow onion instead of shallot. I didn’t have yellow onion on hand so I substituted, and it was really good, but next time I think I will use just one half of a yellow onion in place of the shallot to add a touch of that sweet savory flavor back in. You’re welcome to try it that way, and if you do please let me know how it turns out!
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Half your tomatoes lengthwise and place cut side up on a roasting pan. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Then in to the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until they have withered down by about half.
Smash each clove of garlic with the back of your knife and remove the papery skin. There is no need to mince the garlic because after it cooks down for about an hour it becomes as soft as butter and you can easily press it with the back of your spoon to combine in to the soup. I a large stock pot set on medium, heat about 2 tbs olive oil and add the smashed garlic cloves. Let them sizzle in the oil for about one minute until they just begin to caramelize on the outside- watch it, don’t let them burn.
Add to the pot the whole can of San Marzano Tomatoes and juice. (if you can’t find San Marzano you can use whole peeled plum tomatoes- but San Marzano are the ABSOLUTE BEST) Then add the butter, vegetable stock, thyme, and basil. I tied my basil together at the stems which made for easy removal before it was served.
Peel the papery skin from the shallot (or onion) cut it in half making sure to keep it together at the root and add it to the pot. You want your onion to be held together as much as possible also because you will be removing it at the end as well.
Let your pot simmer for half an hour while your tomatoes are roasting. Every now and then give it a stir and break up the tomatoes by pressing them against the wall of the pot with the back of your wooden spoon. Once the oven roasted tomatoes are done roasting, set them aside until they are just cool enough to handle so that you can remove the skins from the tomatoes. Once all of the skins have been removed, add the roasted tomatoes to the pot and stir to break them up and combine.
Let the soup simmer on low for another 45 minutes to an hour. Keep stirring occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.
Remove from heat, discard the onion, and basil. Add salt to taste ( you might find that your tomatoes came salted like mine and you didn’t need to add much). Spoon in to a bowl and serve.