Tomatoes, in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors nestle in baskets on the kitchen counter all summer long for eating out-of-hand, slicing for sandwiches, dicing for salads. When their ripeness starts to get away from me, I line up halved tomatoes on baking sheets for roasting into concentrated goodness.
Roasted tomatoes, and their cousins, green tomatillos, prove a handy staple for turning out quick soups, sauces and salsas. They can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for months later use.
For a bold-flavored cold or hot tomato soup, season ripe, red tomatoes with salt, pepper, thyme and a little smoked paprika before roasting. Be sure to line the baking sheet with foil to capture all of the flavorful juices to add to the soup. Make a vegetarian soup by using vegetable stock or tomato juice.
On hot summer days, chill the soup for up to several days. To serve, add bits of fresh mozzarella and sliced basil leaves for a soup reminiscent of our favorite Caprese salad. It’s certainly just as refreshing.
Roasted tomatillos, whirled in the blender with green chile and cilantro, make a tangy salsa to serve with chips. Try a dollop of the salsa over the tomato soup — it’ll add spice and tanginess.
Fresh Tomato Soup with Roasted Garlic and Tomatillo Salsa
Makes 4 servings
Note: Serve this soup hot or cold. If serving the soup cold, you can replace the broth with unseasoned tomato juice, such as Pomi or Red Gold brands, for even more tomato goodness.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each: freshly ground black pepper, dried thyme leaves, smoked paprika
6 large ripe, red round tomatoes (total 3 pounds), stemmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic in skin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 to 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, optional
1 cup small dice fresh mozzarella cheese, about 5 ounces
Tomatillo salsa, see recipe below
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves or chopped cilantro
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees on convection or 425 degrees on conventional setting. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Mix salt, pepper, thyme and paprika in a small dish.
2. Cut tomatoes crosswise in half and place cut side up on the baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes evenly with oil, then sprinkle with salt mixture. Add garlic cloves to the pan.
3. Roast on the top rack until tomatoes are nicely golden and garlic is soft, about 40 minutes. Cool completely.
4. Peel garlic and add to a blender jar along with the tomato paste. Add 1/2 of tomatoes and all of the pan juices to the blender. Add half of the broth. Cover the blender loosely with the lid and then a kitchen towel. Blend until absolutely smooth. Transfer to a saucepan if serving soup warm or a container if serving soup cold. Repeat to blend remaining tomatoes with remaining broth.
5. To serve the soup hot, gently heat it in the saucepan. To serve soup cold, chill it well for up to several days. Stir in cream if desired. Serve topped with cheese, dollops of the salsa and the basil leaves.
Green Tomatillo Salsa
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
8 medium-sized tomatillos (1 pound), husked
1 small hot green chile, stemmed, seeded, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons agave syrup or light-tasting honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 green onion, thinly sliced or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1. Preheat broiler. Line a small metal baking pan with foil. Add tomatillos to the pan. Broil, 6 inches from heat source, turning tomatillos once or twice, until golden brown and soft, 10 to 20 minutes.
2. Put tomatillos and any accumulated juices into a blender. Add green chile and process with on/off turns into a rough puree. Add cilantro, agave and salt and process just to mix. Transfer to a bowl and stir in onion or chives. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate covered up to several days.