Italian Roasted Tomato Soup

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Tomatoes are often the featuring star in the cucina povera dishes of Italy. Roasting the humble tomato for this delicious roasted tomato soup enhances the flavour and is a shining example of how just a few simple ingredients come together to surprising flavourful effect, an approach so typical of Italian cuisine. 

It’s hard to believe that the delicious tomato so widely-used in Italian cuisine was once considered deadly poisonous. Now available year-round in fresh and preserved forms, there is no shortage of uses for this versatile fruit in well-loved Italian dishes.

 

The first tomatoes came to Europe via Spain all the way from South America. All of Southern Europe embraced, cultivated and cooked with it ever since Columbus made the trek.

 

The first account of it being mentioned in a 16th century cookbook is from the chef of the king of Naples. If you have ever bitten into a bright red super-sweet tomato cultivated in the volcanic soils at the foot of Mount Vesuvius it is easy to understand why.

 

Like many other Italian tomato-based classics this rustic roasted tomato soup does not disappoint. It bursts with flavour and is rich, even if you choose not to add the cream.

 

Given that the primary ingredient in this soup is tomatoes, the quality of the produce really matters. Use plump bright red San Marzano tomatoes in season, ideally sun-ripened, or left at room temperature to ripen.

 

Italian Roasted Tomato Soup

Serves 4
  • 1,2 kg fresh tomatoes
  • 7 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50g butter
  • Bunch of basil
  • 125 ml cream (optional)
  • Parmesan and crispy pancetta (to serve, optional)
Heat the oven to 210 degrees C.
Halve the tomatoes and spread out in a roasting pan. Make sure that there is still some space between the tomatoes and the pan is not too overcrowded otherwise the tomatoes will stew not grill.
Spread the onions and garlic over the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, season well and roast in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes until slightly caramelized.
Transfer the roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic to a stock pot and add half the chicken stock, bay leaves and butter. Stir until well combined and let it simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes reducing the liquid by about a third.
Remove the bay leaves from the pot, add the basil leaves and puree the soup until smooth by using an immersion blender.
Add the cream if using and place the soup back on the stove at low heat to gently heat up. Adjust the thickness of the soup to your liking using the remaining chicken stock. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve. It is great just as it is but can also be served with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a scattering of crispy pancetta.
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