Slow Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup with Smoked Paprika
October 30, 2011
The height of tomato season in my garden seems to be mid August. It doesn’t matter when I plant, or how I stagger the planting, every August shows the bulk of the tomato crop. This year I did a little better, getting some tomatoes to last into September, including a second crop off my Celebrity plant. Some of you who live in colder climates may not start planting until later (I plant in April and May) and might still have plants still with fruit on the vine, or at least tomatoes picked a little green and ripening inside away from the first frost. Here is a way to use up those not-so-perfect tomatoes and the last of the ripe ones. The soup is also warm and hearty enough to say, “ah, Fall…” and the smoked paprika give it a nice little spicy kick.
I know people will ask, can I use my home canned tomatoes? I would say yes, but with a caveat; the soup will be good but it won’t taste the same as if you had roasted fresh tomatoes. Still, roasting the other vegetables will provide some of that sweetness and smokiness which comes from the roasting process, so give it a try and let me know how it comes out.
Another warning; don’t expect great results with flavorless grocery store tomatoes. If you don’t have homegrown, that’s fine, but make sure to buy a good quality, ripe, tomato with flavor like the ones which can be found in your local farmer’s market. I know I’m probably preachin’ to the choir here, but most commercially grown tomatoes sold in grocery stores are bred for color, texture, and the ability to make it to market, not for flavor. Even though they are “fresh” they will not provide you with the best result, and I want you to enjoy this soup!
Quarter the fennel bulb and remove the stem/base end.
Cut the celery in half, peel the carrots and cut the ends off. Cut the carrots in half. Peel the onion, cut the ends off and cut into quarters. Peel the garlic cloves.
Toss the fennel, celery, carrots, onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place on a sheet pan.
Cut the cores from the tomatoes. If small (less than 2″ or 2 oz weight) , leave whole, otherwise cut the tomatoes in half. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place on a sheet pan.
Put both pans into a 275 degree oven and roast for 1:45-2 hours.
Put all the vegetables into a large soup pot and add 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes break apart and the firmer vegetables get soft. Puree with an immersion blender or allow to cool and puree in a regular blender.
Strain the soup through a chinoise or fine mesh strainer to remove the skins, seeds and fibrous parts of the fennel. This gives a much smoother soup.
Return the soup to the pot and reheat. Add the cumin, smoked paprika and salt to taste.
Garnish with yogurt/sour cream and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Serve with home made whole wheat bread. Tip; to get that squiggle garnish, I put a couple of ounces of yogurt into a small plastic bag, squished it into the corner and snipped off the tip of the bag. Squeeze onto the top of the soup. Voila!
Want more recipes using fresh tomatoes? Check these out: