Monday, March 21, 2011

Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup (without a drop of cream!)

Can I tell you about the time I fell in love with tomato soup? I was in college having lunch with my sister at La Madeleine (fancy!) and I ordered a mug of their tomato soup and Caesar salad thinking I was being virtuous. I can't remember what we talked about. All I can remember is the damn soup. It literally drowned out everything around me. I was in a bubble and it was peaceful and warm and I never wanted to leave it.

But eventually, we had to leave and as we approached the exit I spotted some of the delicious soup for sale. In jars. With the calorie count on them. Turns out, there were about three gallons of heavy cream in each 1/2 cup serving. Don't ask me to do the math - I'm an advertising dork not a scientist - but trust me it was something crazy like that. I have it in my head that it was 60 grams of fat per serving. In other words I could've eaten an entire deep fried chicken or grazed my way through the Texas State Fair for less calories. And it had been soup.

Tomato soup was an evil dirty whore. She'd lied to me with her fresh pink color and visions of spending entire summers in a bikini. From then on I avoided it like the plague. Okay I lied. I got over my phobia eventually. When I was sick I ate Campbell's Tomato with my grilled cheese (not bad) and occasionally whipped up some various chef recipes (Giada's Tomato, Rosemary, and White Bean...divine.) But none were of the creamy variety. I had been scarred.

Until now. My dears - let me introduce you to a creamy, luscious tomato soup without a drop of cream in it. Again I'm not a scientist. I can't tell you why it tastes so naughty and rich and cream-laden. Maybe it's from roasting the tomatoes or the addition of fennel which incredibly doesn't make it licorice-y. But I'll be honest. I don't want to know.

I just want to eat it.

Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup (without a drop of cream!)

3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, cut in half crosswise and scooped free of seeds and watery pulp
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 medium head fennel
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 carrot, chopped
1 peeled, whole garlic clove, lightly smashed
4 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
1 sachet of fresh herbs (a handful each of flat leaf parsley, cilantro, and basil tied together in cheese cloth)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray and set your tomato halves on it, cut side up. Drizzle over enough olive oil to coat them, using your fingers or a pastry brush to spread the oil over each one. Flip them to cut side down, smear any leftover oil over the tops and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Bake the tomatoes for about 40-45 minutes until the tops are just beginning to blacken a little and the tomatoes have shrunk. Set aside.

While the tomatoes roast, trim the stalks off your fennel bulb, peel away the outer layer and remove the bulb base then chop. Add the 3 tablespoons of butter to a large dutch oven and bring over medium heat. Once just melted, add the shallots, carrot, garlic, and fennel. Season lightly with pepper (hold off on the salt for now) and saute until softened, about 12-15 minutes. Be careful not to let the vegetables burn or the butter brown. Once softened, add 2 cups of the chicken broth and the herb sachet.

Reduce heat to a low simmer and let gently bubble away, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and retrieve the sachet, squeezing once cool enough to handle to get all the juice and herby flavor out. Discard the sachet then add your tomato halves and any juice collected in the pan to the pot. Let cool slightly before blending.

To blend, add in batches to a blender or all at once to a food processor and process until nice and smooth, being sure to scrape down any strays from the sides as necessary. Return to the dutch oven and put over low heat. Gently stir in 1 cup of the chicken stock, and then use your judgement wether you want to add more or not once well stirred - just depends on how thick or thin you like your soup.

Taste for salt and pepper, adding any more if need be. ONE WORD OF CAUTION - if you're making the soup for another day and going to refrigerate it - maybe hold off adding more salt as the soup will continue to 'develop' in the fridge. By the time it's reheated - it might be saltier than you think it is.

Serve garnished with fresh herbs, if desired.


StephenC said...

Food police here! "Watery pulp?" Some of the best flavor of a tomato is in there. Strain out the seeds and add the pulp to your soup. And - you're "too chicken to eat frog legs"? Don't you realize they taste like chicken? All in good fun, my dear.

Jenn said...

Ok, that looks seriously good. And YAY for no cream. I love creamy tomato soups too, this will be a welcome change!!

Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking said...

This soup looks absolutely delicious! I would have never known you used so little butter and no cream... What a meal this is! Thanks for sharing your recipe and stopping by my blog. I'm so glad to have found yours and look forward to seeing more!

Renee said...

I can't wait to make this! Sounds devine! And love the humor in your post great job!

nazarina said...

I am always all ears when I see tomato soup pictures...BTW, I cracked up at quote,"evil dirty whore" he! he!
You've got it going on in here with the luscious shallots & carrots, YUM!

Design Wine and Dine said...

I feel like SO much of the "healthy" food we eat...especially out at just as you put it here, "a bunch of dirty whores" in disguise!

Love this post and can not wait to try this! :) :)

Reeni said...

I have been craving just this very soup all week! I could swim in it! I love that no cream is used.

lisa is cooking said...

Now I want some tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich! And, I love that it's creamy with no added cream, and the fennel in it sounds great too.

Karen said...

This sounds fantastic - all the creaminess and not a spoon of cream in it! Will have to give it a try next time I'm craving a creamy soup.

Bizzy said...

I am guessing that using roasted tomatoes, makes all the difference in this.