Each year, I attempt to grow loads of tomatoes. I always grow some, but usually not loads. Thankfully, my generous neighbor is part of a tomato-growing family and their business is Seaside Farms, probably the biggest tomato grower in the area. They supplement my tomato crop and I make our family’s year-round supply of Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. It isn’t difficult at all, but as most people realize, tomatoes are in season during the hottest months of the year. Cooking and pressure canning do tend to raise the heat in the kitchen!
The way I make the soup varies a little depending on the tomatoes. If they are very ripe and very flavorful, I don’t add as much seasoning, but if the tomatoes aren’t at their peak, I find that some onion and roasted garlic help. The recipe, I would say, is very loose.
I start by quartering 6-10 pounds of tomatoes and arranging them on baking sheets. I toss with about 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper. This is where I would add 6-10 cloves of peeled garlic if you like. Into the 400 degree oven my tomatoes go for about 30 minutes or until they are starting to show some brown edges. There will be quite a bit of juice which is fine. Next I transfer the tomatoes and their juices into one or two large pots, depending on how much soup you plan on making. For every 3 pounds of tomatoes, I add one cup of fresh basil (on the stems are fine), several springs of fresh thyme or some dried thyme (one teaspoon or so) if you don’t have fresh, salt and pepper to taste. If you like a thicker soup, I add a cup of water or chicken broth. If you like your soup thinner, I add 4 cups of water or broth. Sometimes I use this an opportunity to clean the freezer and add various things like some wine or tomato paste or red peppers. This is where you could add the onion (1 chopped). I simmer this concoction for 30-45 minutes until the soup starts to darken into a brighter color of red.
By this time, you should have a pot full of roasted and stewed vegetables in liquid and you might be wondering how you would turn this mess into soup. I use a 60 year old food mill. Mine has a medium blade and no other options. You could do this with a finer or courser blade depending on how chunky you like your soup. However, the immersion blender idea doesn’t really work as well because the whole point of the food mill, for this recipe at least, is to remove the tomato seeds, skin and large chunks of herbs and onion. It takes a few minutes to ladle all the soup through the food mill and crank. Once you have completed this, you are finished! Each recipe makes about 4 quarts of soup depending on how much liquid was added. This soup is very versatile and can be further seasoned if needed. Sometimes, when re-heating the soup to eat, I will add a rind of Parmesan cheese to add some additional flavor.
This soup can be frozen or preserved. I use a pressure canner, but have also done it in a boiling water bath method as well. Summer tomato soup tastes fabulous in January when the only tomato you are likely to see in a grocery store is pale pink and flavorless! My children eat this soup…especially when some goldfish crackers or popcorn are floating on top. Have a great week!