Since moving to Virginia, I have discovered a state rich with foodie treasures. There’s wine – delicious, local wine. There’s an abundance of farmers markets, which I absolutely love. Those give us the opportunity to buy fresh and local, and it doesn’t get much better than that. On a recent trip to the farmers market, Eric and I purchased Hanover tomatoes. It was the first day they were at the market, and everyone there seemed quite excited about them. I couldn’t find out much about them, but it seems that Hanover County, Virginia has sandy soil that gives these tomatoes their vibrant red color and delicious flavor.
Not quite knowing what to do with the beautiful tomatoes we purchased, I set off to find a recipe that would really showcase them. With temperatures over 100 degrees, soup was the last thing on my mind. However, I decided soup would be the best way to taste the full flavor of the tomatoes. After all, as Eric pointed out, it’s not like we’d be eating this soup outside. 🙂 This recipe was exactly what I was hoping for. It calls for roasting the tomatoes first, which allows them to caramelize and adds so much depth to their flavor. The soup was simply fantastic and ended up being the perfect way for me to showcase those awesome Hanover tomatoes. For serving, I simply cubed a baguette and tossed the cubes in olive oil and garlic and herb seasoning and baked for about ten minutes. The crunchy, herby croutons were a great complement to the creamy soup.
Roasted Tomato Soup
2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (Heirlooms or vine-ripened)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
pinch red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional
-Preheat oven to 450º.
-Wash and core the tomatoes. Cut in half and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Add garlic and onions and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized, about 20 to 30 minutes.
-Transfer roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion to a Dutch oven or stock pot. Add 3 cups of stock, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and butter.
-Bring tomato mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced by a third, about 15 to 20 minutes.
-Add basil leaves and remove soup from heat. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree in batches until smooth. Alternately, use an immersion blender.
-Return soup to low heat. If desired, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
-Serve garnished with croutons or fresh basil, if desired.
Adapted from Tyler Florence