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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup with Cheesies

I blame learning to crochet for my recent lack of blog posts. It's not that I haven't been making dinner, it's that I'm spending all my free mornings making hats instead of writing up blog posts. Add to this John's new, let's call it challenging, work schedule and it also hasn't been a month for much experimenting in the kitchen. Enter Tomato Soup with Cheesies. I hadn't made this soup in years, but I remembered it as the great Emergency Soup from when I was cooking. We always had roasted garlic in the fridge, cans of good tomatoes on the shelf, cream in the pastry department, and that's about all it takes. It's a rich enough soup that I like to eat it with Cheesies (that's what we called toast with melted cheese on top when we were kids) instead of the usual grilled cheese sandwich. I don't keep roasted garlic around now (though maybe I should), so that was the one element I had to plan ahead for. You could probably skip it if you're in a hurry.

Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup with Cheesies
served 2 for dinner with 4 servings left to put in the freezer for lunches

1 head of garlic
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 T tomato paste
2 cans of whole tomatoes
1 t dried thyme
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cups stock*
1 cup cream
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or sub1 T dried and add it with the thyme)
a few slices of your favorite sliced bread and cheese

  • To roast the garlic, start by cutting off the top of the head so that some of the tips of the cloves are exposed. Set the head on a square of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, and close it up in a little packet. Roast in a 350 oven for about an hour. The cloves will be soft and brown. This keeps in the fridge for about a week.
  • In your soup pot, saute the onion in a little olive oil until it is nicely browned - about 8 minutes or so.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir and cook until it's just starting to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the tomatoes with all their liquid, stock, thyme (and basil if using dried), red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Squish the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and add.
  • Simmer 30 minutes to an hour depending on how thick you like your soup. Remember that you're going to add cream next, so let it be a little on the thick side.
  • Remove from the heat and add the cream, basil, and balsamic. 
  • Blend with a hand blender or in batches in a food processor or blender.
  • Serve with Cheesies: toast one side of the bread under the broiler until it's just about to start turning brown. Flip the bread over, top with cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted.

*I use a stock base (Better than Bouillon) instead of liquid stock so that I don't have to simmer the soup as long to get it to the right consistency. So for this recipe I'd add 2 cups of water and 4 t of stock base instead of 4 cups of stock. If you don't have, or don't like, the paste stock consider putting your liquid stock in a pot and reducing it by half while the garlic is roasting. It will make the actual soup making part go faster.

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