It's beginning to feel like fall, and I'm craving soup... tomato soup in particular. I have three 'tricks' for making a delicious tomato soup: (1) roasting the tomatoes first for more complex, rich flavor, (2) adding just enough half-and-half to make it creamy but not too rich, and (3) straining the soup for a silkier, smoother texture. A cup of this soup with a grilled cheese sandwich? Ultimate comfort food.
Roasted Tomato Soup (makes about 2 cups / 2 servings)
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp Herbes de Provence*
1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock or chicken stock
1/4 cup half-and-half**
Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain the tomatoes, setting aside the juice for later use. Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet, lightly coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast for 20-30 minutes, until caramelized. In a pot, heat a little olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and onion. Cook until translucent and fragrant. Add the roasted tomatoes and reserved juice, plus the basil leaves, Herbs de Provence, and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. (Careful, it's hot!) Mix in the half-and-half. Taste; add pepper and salt if needed. Strain the soup by setting a sieve over a bowl, pouring soup into the sieve, and then using a spoon to stir and press along the bottom of the seive until all the liquid has passed through. (If you want the soup really smooth, you can repeat this process, but I just do it once.)
*The packet of Herbes de Provence I use is a mix of rosemary, lavender, savory, fennel, basil, and thyme. Anything similar will work—the reason I use it is because it's a nice combination of flavor and I only have to measure out "one" spice.
**I use half-and-half because it's what I usually have on hand. But you could use cream or whole milk instead, or yogurt for a healthier twist.