Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Easy Tomato Basil Soup

Today, as I sliced through our CSA microshare of roma tomatoes, their sweet and intense aroma wafting to my nose, it dawned on me that this was the first time that I actually took notice of the aroma of a roma tomato. Conventional roma tomatoes - those sold at chain grocery stores - never smell this good, or even look this vibrant - brilliant, crimson red - for that matter. Don't you agree?

Conventional romas are usually sold under-ripe which explains why they rarely taste or look their best. I'm sure if you were to leave them on the counter for a few days or in a sealed brown paper bag for a day or two, they would develop the sweet flavor that comes naturally to those sold at farmers' markets across the country.

We've had a surplus of romas since they've been in our CSA delivery for the past three weeks. This turned out to be a good thing for making creamy tomato basil soup, without the cream. 

Easy Tomato Basil Soup
Serves 3 to 4

8 to 10 roma tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tbsp
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
4 to 5 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup fresh basil leaves

1. Slice the tomatoes in half and toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down and in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast in a 400 degrees F oven for 20 to 25 minutes. 
2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the onions, garlic, and jalapeno (if using) until slightly browned. Add the roasted tomatoes (with all the juices from the pan), the chicken stock, and basil leaves. Stir and and bring to a slow simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. 
3. Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth (or to your desired consistency). Return soup to the pot, and and return to a gentle simmer. Serve warm with garlic croutons.