If I’m going to serve soup for dinner, it needs to be something with some heft and texture — like white bean with ham, or beef barley.
Dinner soups need to be filling, especially in winter. That’s why broth-based soups and those with very few additional ingredients don’t really work for me from November through March.
The exception would be this roasted tomato soup. Even though it is broth-based and has nothing in it except the titular roasted tomatoes, onions and a few other simple ingredients, the boldness of its flavor make it filling enough even for a cold winter night’s dinner.
Roasting the tomatoes exponentially enhances their flavor, even when you use less flavorful winter tomatoes. Basically, in this soup you make your own tomato paste, then balance its harshness with hyper-sweet carmelized onions, resulting in a hearty, delicious soup that also is vegetarian and inexpensive.
A dollop of basil pesto adds last second extra flavor complexity to the soup. In summertime, basil is plentiful and cheap, so I usually have pesto lying around. In winter, I typically buy a small package of pesto and plan several meals around it — soups, breads, salads, pastas — to get my money’s worth from my investment.
Pair this soup with an easy-to-make Italian paisan bread and you have a complete meal bold enough to stand up to even the heartiest appetite.
This soup also is incredibly versatile. In restaurants, I put this on dinner menus in the wintertime when the weather was coldest, and again during the hottest months of summer, when I would serve it chilled and garnished with zigzags of creme fraiche. Filling or refreshing, it is satisfying either way.
Roasted Tomato Soup
6-8 tomatoes, any kind, rough chop
2 TBS EVOO
1 TBS EVOO (Separated)
1 medium white onion, julienne
12 oz bottle of beer, any kind
2 cloves garlic, crushed
14 oz vegetable stock
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 TBS basil pesto (per bowl for garnish)
Fresh cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine chopped tomatoes and 2 TBS EVOO in mixing bowl and toss. Transfer to sheet pan and cook until charred, about an hour, stirring occasionally. You want the tomatoes to get quite dark. They won’t really start to char until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 45 minutes in. Then they will char fast.
2. Put cast iron skillet on fire. When hot, add 1 TBS EVOO. When smoking, add onions and toss. Cook until they start to brown a little, about 5 minutes, then add half the beer and partially cover. The liquid helps the onions carmelize both faster and more efficiently. When beer is mostly evaporated, stir in remaining beer and cook until onions are pleasantly brown and sugary. During last minute of cooking, stir in garlic.
3. When tomatoes are done, remove from oven, transfer onions to same sheet pan as the tomatoes and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Transfer enough of the tomato and onion mixture to fill blender cylinder about halfway full. Add enough vegetable stock to fill blender 3/4 full, add Worchestershire sauce and hot sauce and blend, starting with a careful pulse and eventually building to full speed. Mixture is completely blended when it has a consistent color and texture throughout the entire cylinder, about 3 minutes. Pour mixture into soup pot and blend remaining tomato mixture and stock in the blender the same way. If you have an immersion blender, you can do this blending right in the soup pot.
4. Heat soup in pot, seasoning to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Garnish with a TBS of basil pesto per bowl and serve.
What sort of soups do you use to warm up a cold winter’s night? Share your ideas in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!