Last week, I used deep red, fresh San Marzano tomatoes to make beautiful tomato soup. Since they were probably the last local tomatoes of the year, I cooked a double batch. After enjoying it for two days, I realized there was too much for me to eat on my own and I invited friends over to share a soup supper.
Although the soup would be new to my guests, to perk up my fifth bowl of it, I caramelized thin slices of Meyer lemon to float in each bowl as a garnish. These intensely golden lemons, a cross between a mandarin orange and a conventional lemon, are so naturally sweet that you can actually sip their juice. Seared in a dry cast iron skillet for 1 minute on each side, the sugar in them caramelizes and the entire becomes soft enough to eat.
My friend Julia is a food stylist, so over our steaming bowls of soup we brainstormed ways make eating this surfit of soup more interesting. For added challenge, we agreed that each suggestion had have good nutritional benefits.
For our tomato soup, we came up with six ideas. They sounded so good that, confessing that I was planning to make lentil soup over the weekend, we moved on to ideas for sparking that up, too.
Tomato soup garnishes:
Leeks frizzled in olive oil
Canned chickpeas and chopped parsley
Chopped fresh tomato and green olives
Finely minced red onion, sweet onion, and snipped chives
Chopped roasted red pepper and orange sections
Grilled bread rubbed with garlic
Lentil Soup Garnishes:
Portobello mushroom “croutons” crisp-seared in a dry skillet
Thin avocado slices and cilantro
Gremolata of chopped parsley, lemon zest, and minced shallots
Diced tomato and fresh thyme leaves tossed with olive oil
Fresh basil strips and finely chopped sweet onion
Roasted Tomato Soup (Makes 4 servings)
6 medium beefsteak-type tomatoes (2 ½ –3 pounds), halved, and seeded
4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 small Spanish onion, halved and cut in 1/2” slices, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup fat-free reduced salt chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
2. Place the tomatoes, garlic, and half the sliced onion on a cookie sheet. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and rub the vegetables to coat them. Set the tomatoes cut side up. Roast the vegetables until the tomatoes are golden on top, about 40 minutes.
3. When they are cool enough to handle, over a large bowl, pull off the tomato skins, discard them, and tear the flesh into chunks, catching all the pieces in the bowl. Coarsely chop the onions and add them to the tomatoes. Squeeze the garlic from the cloves into the bowl. Pour in all the juices from the cookie sheet. Set the vegetables aside.
4. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the remaining onion until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Mix in the cumin, coriander and ginger until the spices are fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the contents of the bowl to the pot. Pour in the broth. Bring the liquid to a bowl, reduce the heat, and simmer the soup, covered, until the onions are soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the soup sit, uncovered, to cool slightly.
5. In a blender, puree the soup until it is orange and almost smooth. Divide the hot soup among 4 deep soup bowls. Garnish with the lime zest, and serve. Or, cool the soup and refrigerate it, covered, for up to 3 days. Reheat it, covered, in a pot over medium heat, garnish and serve.
©The Essential Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi