I know it’s been a while since we’ve last spoke. Things have been busy at work…we’ve been in a cooking rut…and – yes, of course – you’re right, no excuses. But we’re back and ready to go! After the aberrant snowstorm last week, it seems like winter is coming early. Winter for us, at least while we’re on the East Coast, means soup. And lots of it. There is something just so comforting about a bowl of soup on a chilly day. Maybe it’s the way the savoriness travels down your body, leaving behind its trail of warmth. It’s calming.
What’s more, it’s also great for when you’re sick, which is what our dear photographer is right now. So it’s going to be a soupy weekend. I bought a whole chicken a few days ago, roasted it and saved the bones. A big pot of chicken stock was made and I’m putting it to use. First up, one of my favorite soups, roasted tomato and basil. The ripe plum tomatoes offer a fleshy juiciness that is balanced with the subtle pepper and and sweet flavors of the basil. And my secret ingredient? Instead of any old can of diced tomatoes, I use Trader Joe’s Organic Diced & Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chilies. It adds a kick of heat to the soup, while clearing out your sinuses! It’s perfect for when you’re sick, and also great for when you’re not.
- To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 400F. Place the tomatoes halves, facing upward, on a baking sheet.
- Season them with black pepper and drizzle liberally with olive oil.
- Roast for 45 minutes and set aside.
- In a stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat, warm some olive oil and the tablespoon of butter.
- Saute the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes until the onions start to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme and chicken stock (or water).
- Add in the roasted tomatoes along with any liquid on the baking sheet.
- Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
- Pass the soup through a food mill or pulse on low speed in a blender until the roasted tomato halves are just blended.
Canned tomatoes generally have a lot of sodium in them. I try to buy the sodium free kind when possible, but the Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chilies doesn’t come in that option. So I try to eliminate sodium in the rest of the cooking process: I opted not to sprinkle sea salt over the plum tomatoes before roasting and did not add any salt into the homemade chicken broth. Generally, if one ingredient is contributing a lot of sodium to a dish, I try to cut out salt from the rest of the ingredients.