Is there anything better than tomato soup to beat back the November chill? I don’t think so. Especially when the tomatoes that go into the soup have been oven roasted. Fire roasted tomato soup is a celebration of color and flavor. One I can’t get enough of.
I used to buy canned fire roasted tomatoes until this summer when I met a mysterious farmer who made quite an impression.
One July Sunday morning, Steve and I stole away for a few minutes of alone time at the farmer’s market. We strolled up and down the aisles, still sleepy and un-showered, letting the colors of the produce wash over us as we enjoyed a few blissful kid-free minutes. The farmer’s voice jolted us out of our reverie. “My tomatoes are really something special. You can’t walk past until you’ve tasted one.” I looked up, surprised by the certainty in the farmer’s voice. He was a preppy guy around my age and he peered up at me with a confident smile. “Trust me. You can’t walk past without trying one of my tomatoes.” He had a small stall and was selling a few pints of colorful cherry tomatoes and some jars of salsa.
I walked up and tried what he promised was the sweetest tomato he grew. It exploded in my mouth like a really good piece of candy. Steve and I looked at each other and smiled. There’s nothing like a sweet summer tomato. The farmer smiled, gloating a little. “I told you they were good. But if you really want to make them a religious experience, you won’t just eat them raw. You’ll toss them with a little olive oil and roast them. Believe me.”
Steve and I went home with four pints of his tomatoes and headed straight for the kitchen. We tossed his tomatoes in the oven, then pureed them and made the greatest pizzas we’d ever had. We did it all summer long. We tossed the roasted tomatoes in everything: fresh pasta, soft scrambled eggs, even as a topping for steak. We were hooked. We only saw him one other time. He vanished from the market, leaving us hungry for more. But he left us with his fire roasted tomato idea, and even now that the summer tomatoes are just a painful memory, we continue to roast to boost the flavor of supermarket tomatoes. Now that the weather is turning chilly, our fire roasted oven tomatoes go into warm soup, filled with flavor, the perfect thing to beat the cold.
- 4 pints of cherry tomatoes, the sweetest you can find
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups of tomato juice
- 2 to 4 tablespoons of light brown sugar
- ⅓ cups of sherry
- ⅓ cups of shredded mozzarella
- salt and pepper
- Wash and halve your cherry tomatoes. Toss them with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
- Spread them in one layer on two cookie sheets. Roast at 450 degrees fahrenheit for 35 minutes. Remove from the pan and puree with a hand blender or in a food processor. Set aside.
- Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the butter until melted.
- Add the onion and saute until translucent and soft, about 5-7 minutes.
- Pour in the fire roasted tomatoes and stir well. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and mix well. Pour in the tomato juice. Bring back to a boil.
- Now taste the soup to assess the acidity. Every batch of tomatoes is different and you may need a little more sugar at this point if the soup still tastes really acidic. You’ll know when you have it right. Add more sugar one teaspoon at a time to not go from acidic to too sweet all at once.
- Pour in the sherry and bring back to a boil. I like to boil away the boozy taste that comes from the alcohol, leaving behind just the savory sweetness of sherry. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Before serving, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.