Yes, there is still time to use luscious summer vegetables in your fall cooking. Soup is the obvious answer and roasting is a great technique for the veggies – even if you’ve got less-than-perfect grocery store specimens, but much better if they’re from the local farmers market or your own garden.
I was thrilled to still find mountains of locally grown tomatoes at the Evanston Farmers Market a couple weeks ago and selected a colorful mix of heirlooms, cherry, and field tomatoes for a big batch of roasted tomato soup. Since the first nip of autumn air I had been craving the classic tomato soup and grilled cheese combo, and seeing the bounty of beautiful tomatoes at the market seemed like a sign from above that we should give in to temptation. And it was so.
Roasting vegetables with a little bit of oil in a hot oven causes the flavors to become concentrated and a lovely golden-brown caramelization to occur. Pardon me while I blot up the drool that just escaped my suddenly-hungry mouth. As I was saying, caramelized veggies ... Oops, there I go again.
In any case, roasted vegetables – tomatoes in this case – provide the starting point for a dynamite soup.
We referred to the Great Grilled Cheese cookbook for techniques and guiding principles but decided to wing it rather than follow any specific recipe.
Author Laura Werlin recommends using two kinds of shredded cheese (gruyere and sharp cheddar for us) and also a thin coat of butter on the outer sides of each sandwich.
We added bacon and thin slices of Granny Smith apples and cooked them up all nice and melty in a panini machiney that we received as a Christmas gift years ago (used it < 5 times since then).
Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
Recipe source: Tyler Florence via Food Network
- 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine, and plum tomatoes)
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 small yellow onions, sliced
- Optional garnish: Vine cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
- ½ cup whole milk (or cream or another type of dairy to your taste)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. If using vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, add them as well, leaving them whole and on the vine. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 15-25 minutes, or until caramelized. Watch carefully and turn on the ventilation – using olive oil at such a high temperature means it will get smoky.
- Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot. (Set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later, if using as garnish.)
- Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.
- Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.
- Return soup to low heat, add milk and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary.
- Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Optional garnishes: 3 or 4 roasted vine cherry tomatoes per bowl and/or a splash of heavy cream