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Zuppa con pomodoro arrosto di Tuscano

…or Tuscan roasted tomato soup

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Lewis Grizzard, American writer and humorist

I’ve been craving for the intense flavor of nice vine-ripened tomatoes. You know the ones I’m talking about…red, ripe, plump, juicy…the skin so ripe that it easily yields at the most gentle gash of a knife, its nectar bursting with the perfume of the quintessential tomato fragrance. One naked slice placed on the tongue brings me yet one step closer to the true essence of mother nature. Sweet. Pure. Fresh. Splendid.

So hard to find ones I used to indulge in, in the South of France. Occasionally, my senses get excited over the ones I find at the local organic farmer’s market. Last weekend, I picked up some of these lovelies, and stored them, as usual, in a brown paper bag, at room temperature. They couldn’t have been more ready for the feast of a soup I had in mind – with these luscious red ripened beauties, as the star ingredient.

Oh and for goodness sake, do not store your tomatoes in the refrigerator. It’s a mortal sin. I’ll default to Chef Tony Minichiello’s blog post “Land of the tomato-killers!” to tell you why. And another one of my favorites of Chef Tony’s cardinal rules post about how to respect a tomato, you must read “Why Joe Pesci would make an excellent culinary teacher”. Chef Tony Minichiello, favorite Chef of many. An amazing chef, a food purist, one of the best food writers I know, with an amazing sense of (food) humor. He is real. He is honest. He is unprecedented. Chef Tony is an also the co-owner of NWCAV and instructor – where I studied my professional culinary program.

“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.” Laurie Colwin, ‘Home Cooking’

As I write this, Vancouver, BC is wearing the white snow blanket. Looks like December out there. Alex and I were humming jingle bells last night. Who would think we’re entering March next week? Seriously. Maybe this is why I’ve been craving tomatoes  – in mind, body, and spirit, I am ready for summer. If summer won’t come, then I’ll create it in my kitchen. And so I did and hope you do too.

Zuppa con pomodoro arrosto di Tuscano

…or Tuscan roasted tomato soup

Serves 6-8

14 vine ripened tomatoes – great to use San Marzano tomatoes if you can find any or Roma tomatoes
A handful of fresh thyme sprigs and/or rosemary sprigs
Generous splash of olive oil
Dash of balsamic vinegar
Sea salt

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
4 celery ribs, small dice
1 carrot, small dice

4 garlic cloves, de-germed, minced
1 roasted red pepper, small dice
8 sun-dried tomato halves, chiffonade
3 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup passata
½ tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne

1 tsp balsamic vinegar, deglaze
¼ cup lemon juice, deglaze
1 cup white wine, deglaze

3 cups vegetable stock or water

Roast the tomatoes
Preheat oven to 300-325F (adjust the oven as needed during cooking). Wash tomatoes and slice them in half, width-wise. Place them face up in a glass baking dish. Toss in the herbs, splash them with the olive oil and balsamic, then add a few pinches of the sea salt. Place baking dish in the oven, middle rack, for 2-1/2 hours and/or until tomatoes reduce and become tender. Allow the tomatoes to cool in the oven. Very gently, remove the skin from each tomato – do not discard the tomato juice, this is liquid gold – then transfer the tomatoes into the base.

Prep the base
In a large soup pan, heat the olive oil. Add the carrots; cook, stirring, until they’re caramelized. Add the onions and celery, saute until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, passata, paprika, and cayenne. Cook over medium-high heat, au sec (until liquid have evaporates). Deglaze pan with balsamic vinear, au sec. Add the white wine and allow alcohol to evaporate. Add the lemon juice and the stock/water. B2B (bring to boil), then lower heat and allow the ingredients to cook through until tender.

Bring it home
Mix tomatoes with the soup base. B2B. Season to taste.

Finish
How you want to serve this soup is up to you. You see from my pics here that I wanted a bisque texture – pureed, even, satiny. That’s what I was in the mood for. You can leave the soup chunky or go half-half i.e., puree the base, then add the tomatoes and roughly mash them so you get a combined texture. Your call, but I promise that either way, you’ll enjoy it just the same.

BTW – a little restaurant trick here – right before plating, add a splash of gin to the tomato soup. The juniper berry adds a whole other dimension to tomato soup. Try it and find out for yourself.

You can garnish this soup with pesto, cheese, crème fraiche, flavored-oils, herbs, croutons, etc.

4 comments to Zuppa con pomodoro arrosto di Tuscano

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