When August rolls around, I always know I’ll be looking for ways to use up the baskets of fresh, ripe tomatoes we pick from our garden. There is nothing better than the flavor and aroma of ripe tomatoes just picked from the garden whose taste is enhanced by the heat of the summer sun. With my summer tomato bounty, I make everything from fresh tomato pasta sauces, roasted tomatoes that are as sweet as candies, tomato jam, and stuffed tomatoes with savory fillings. I also make soups I can serve at room temperature such as this easy, great summer recipe. When I end up with an overabundance of tomatoes; however, I often roast them and then pop them in the freezer to make soups like this one during the colder months. There is nothing better than enjoying the full flavor of ripe garden tomatoes during the winter. I simply cut my plum tomatoes in half, then dress them with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and dried oregano. I roast them at 250 degrees F. until they are shriveled. about an hour and a half. I then put them in a freezer bag and freeze them until I need them.
This soup was created because we were leaving Umbria for three months once again, and I needed to close down my freezer. I am always busy during the last few weeks before we fly out using up everything that I froze when our garden was flourishing months earlier. I had a bag full of roasted tomatoes in my freezer, and I decided to add onions, garlic, and fennel to make a full-flavored soup. I decided to roast the other vegetables as well, and then simply blend them together, creating a chunky puree. Roasting all of the vegetables first caramelizes the natural sugars and gives the soup a lot of flavor. You could also use good quality canned tomatoes in this soup in place of the fresh ones. This soup turned out even better than I planned, and was even better the second day reheated after the flavors had time to develop. I like to serve this soup warm, not hot, so you can really taste the flavors, and the soup lends itself to any number of garnishes when you serve it. My husband likes soups like this one served over a slice of grilled crusty Italian bread, while I enjoy a drizzle of really good olive oil and a dollop of pesto.
Deborah Mele 2019
- 24 Medium Large Plum Tomatoes
- 1 Large Sweet Onion
- 1 Large Fresh Fennel Bulb
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Thyme
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
- Salt & Pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Chicken Broth
- Basil Pesto Mixed With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare 2 large baking sheets by covering them with aluminum foil.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and lay them cut side up on one of the baking sheets.
- Finely chop the thyme with two of the garlic cloves and sprinkle this over the tomatoes.
- Drizzle the cut side of the tomatoes with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Peel the onion and cut into one inch slices, brush both sides with a little olive oil and place on the other baking sheet.
- Cut the fennel in half and remove the core.
- Cut off the frond stems and then cut off the fennel leaves, toss them in a little olive oil and place them on the baking sheet with the onions.
- Season the onions and fennel with a little salt and pepper.
- Place both baking sheets in the oven and bake until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown.
- The tomatoes will take about 40 minutes and the onions and fennel may take up to an hour.
- Place the vegetables into a food processor and pulse until you have a thick chunky mixture.
- Heat another two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy saucepan and cook the other two garlic cloves, finely minced until fragrant.
- Add the tomato mixture, the chopped basil and just enough broth to loosen the soup. (I use about one cup of broth.)
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, season with salt and pepper and cook for an additional 10 minutes to meld the flavors, adding additional broth if the soup becomes too thick.
- Allow the soup to come to room temperature before serving.
- Serve the soup at room temperature in individual bowls topped with your garnish of choice.
- I mix two tablespoons of pesto with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and drizzle this mixture on top before serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 323 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 13g Cholesterol: 6mg Sodium: 462mg Carbohydrates: 40g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 25g Protein: 10g