Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Best Tomato Soup EVER!

Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic Croutons
3 pounds plum tomatoes (about 18 medium tomatoes)
2 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more if needed
3/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for oiling the baking sheet
3 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
Garlic Croutons
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley

1. Arrange an oven rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a heavy, rimmed baking sheet very generously with olive oil.

2. Halve tomatoes lengthwise and remove membranes, seeds, and stems. As you are preparing the tomatoes, place them cut-side down on a large plate or platter to drain.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the pepper, 1 1/8 teaspoons salt, and the rosemary. Add the garlic and 1/2 cup olive oil and whisk well to blend. Add the tomatoes to the bowl and toss well to coat. Marinate tomatoes for 15 minutes.

4. Arrange the tomatoes, cut sides up, on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle any remaining oil in the bowl over them.

5. Roast until tomatoes are softened and are browned on the bottoms and around the edges, for 50 to 60 minutes, watching carefully to prevent overcooking. Remove baking sheet from oven.

6. Place half of the tomatoes in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pour in 1 cup of the stock and pulse until pureed for about 1 minute.

7. Coarsely chop the remaining half of the tomatoes. In a medium, deep-sided saucepan, combine the chopped tomatoes, pureed tomato mixture, and remaining 2 1/2 cups chicken stock and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. (Don't worry about little bits of charred tomato pieces floating to the top-they add great flavor.) Taste soup and season with salt, as needed. (soup can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)

8. To serve, ladle soup into 4 bowls. Garnish each serving with some croutons and a sprinkle of basil or parsley.

Garlic Croutons
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups bread crumbs (1/2-inch dice), made from good quality French baguette or country bread, crusts included
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1. In a medium, heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the oil and butter until hot. Add the bread cubes and cook, stirring until light golden, for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, stir and cook for another 2 minutes until the bread is golden and crisp. Take care not to let the garlic bits burn. Remove from heat and set aside. Croutons can be prepared 4 hours ahead; cover loosely with foil and leave at room temperature.

Thought for the day: I saw these napkins and they made me laugh...

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