I had been planning on making Ina's version this summer when tomatoes are in season but moved this to-do item up on my cooking list when I came across this recipe at The Soup Addict. Canned San Marzano tomatoes are the star here. I've heard that San Marzanos are the cream of the crop in canned tomatoes and was finally able to pony up the extra cash to try these. They are delicious, and if there is a Meijier in your area, they have a store brand (imported from Italy and DOP certified) that is about half the cost of the other brands. The tomatoes are roasted with some basil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and olive oil. While the tomatoes are roasting, a mirepoix of onions and carrots (and celery if you like) is sauteed. The tomatoes are mixed with the mirepoix and chicken stock finishes off the soup. Simmer until the veggies are soft and then blend with an immersion blender. I added a splash of cream to add a bit of creaminess.
The soup is bright in flavor and filling. The acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar really shine here. I would have preferred the soup to be blended a bit more, but probably will always be too lazy to use a blender or food processor when the immersion blender is so easy!
While I won't completely banish canned tomato soup from my pantry, I may have found a new version of my favorite comfort food!
Makes 4 servings.
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
2 heaping tablespoons fresh basil (leaves only), chopped or fine chiffonade (measured after chopping)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 or 2 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half or milk, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and place in a mixing bowl. Add basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss or stir gently to mix. Spread tomato mixture onto a foil-lined (for easy cleanup), rimmed baking pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a stock pot or large saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion, cook until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add the roasted tomato mixture, the reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf, sugar and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Puree with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth, or blend in a regular blender, working in batches.
Add dairy, if using, stirring well to blend. Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary.