Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More Tomatoes - Kate's Roasted Tomato & Cognac Soup

I mentioned to you yesterday that we ate our delicious Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with a soup that I made over the weekend. I wasn’t going to leave you hanging! Here is a brand new recipe I concocted.

At the farmers’ market last week I purchased bushel of tomatoes, and wanted to make something that would allow us to savor them as long as possible. The beauty of making soups is that they (can) last forever – well, at least six months in your freezer. I love making soups because they make so much food, and can incorporate so many wonderful vegetables. As a working professional, soups are a true blessing in that I can come home after a long day and still eat a homemade meal. I pull a serving out of my freezer, defrost, and serve with a salad or a sandwich.

This recipe was inspired by a tomato and cognac soup I have long been enjoying at Sweet Lorraines’s. (No known relation to the Patty Griffin song, but equally as awesome.) I haven’t had their version for several months, so my recipe is not an exact replica, but the general idea is there by flavoring the caramelized tomatoes with cognac. My batch from the weekend is still in the fridge, and as I’ve been pulling it out each night when I get home, I’m not sure that it will make it to the freezer. This is certainly one we’ll try again.

Kate's Roasted Tomato & Cognac Soup
* 2 ½ lbs fresh tomatoes, halved and cored
* ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3 cloves of garlic, minced
* 2 cups vegetable broth
* 2 - 6 oz. cans tomato paste (preferably with Italian seasoning)
* ½ cup cognac
* 4 sprigs fresh thyme
* 1 cup 2% milk (or ¾ cup heavy cream)
* Salt and fresh freshly ground pepper, to taste
* Crushed red pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Spread tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with ¼ cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for approximately 25-30 minutes, until tomatoes are caramelized.

In a large stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 10 minutes, until onions are tender and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes, until paste is incorporated into onion and garlic mixture. Add cognac to deglaze the pan and cook for 3 minutes, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add roasted tomatoes and all of their juices, along with vegetable stock and fresh thyme sprigs (on stem). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard of thyme sprigs. Use an immersion blender to puree to your desired consistency (longer for a smooth soup; briefly for a chunky soup). Return to low heat and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir in milk or heavy cream and cook for 5 minutes. (Note: If your soup is too thick, you can add more vegetable broth or milk/cream.)

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