While my family and I eat meat, we don’t eat it every night. And since it is generally just me and my husband now, we often like something a little bit lighter for dinner yet still full of flavor. This is a lovely, herbaceous, slightly smoky soup that really only requires some well-toasted, crusty bread topped with smushed avocado or hummus if you are keeping it vegan or adding some cheese if you just want it vegetarian. The original recipe claimed that it served four, but unless you are also serving a large salad or are very, very tiny people with very, very small appetites, we found that it was just right for two people with one of them having seconds. Of course, if this is just a first course, it will obviously serve more. Should you have any left-overs, they can be gently re-heated.
This recipe relies on having access to really flavorful tomatoes and I think that Roma/plum tomatoes are best here. And while I suppose you could use dried herbs, please, please use fresh. It’s just that kind of fresh, herbal flavor that makes this dish. There are no fancy techniques here and it is wonderful as is, but when I make it again, I very likely will also add a couple of roasted red peppers – just because I can.
Yield: 4 small or 2 generous servings
2 lb tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Kosher salt or to taste
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper or to taste
2 cups vegetable broth, preferably low sodium
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion chopped – about 2 cups
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped plus extra for garnish
2 tbsp all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
Cut the tomatoes in half length-wise. Add the tomatoes to a 9 x 13 baking pan and drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes or until tomatoes start to char slightly.
Add the tomatoes (with skin on) to a blender along with 1 cup of vegetable broth. Blend until tomatoes are smooth. [I found that the tomatoes blended just fine without adding the broth at this point. Your choice.]
In a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the chopped onion and garlic cloves and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add chopped fresh basil and thyme and stir. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir. Add remaining 1 cup of vegetable broth and whisk, just to make sure there are no lumps from the flour.
Pour the blended tomatoes into the pot and stir.
Add brown sugar, Balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve with some additional chopped fresh herbs, grated cheese and/or toasted bread or any combination.