I got the inspiration for these from Hilary's food blog. Deb also made them, and the original recipe came from Food and Wine magazine. Hilary suggested they would be good with soup, and she was right.
The soup came from The Best Recipe, where I always turn for comfort stuff. Like cream of tomato soup that would be perfect with something cheesy and puffy. But sometimes I think I actually know better than America's Test Kitchen. Reallly, the arrogance. While reading the recipe, I found myself saying things like, "Strain the mixture! Rinse out the saucepan! Transfer just the solids to a blender! Why, why why? I need streamlined efficiency, not the straining of liquids, the pureeing of solids only, and the cleaning of a saucepan I'm going to need again in 5 minutes. So I did it my way, and pureed the whole lot in the pot with my favorite kitchen tool - the immersion blender. And while the end result was perfectly tomato-ey, and better than something out of a can, the pre-recipe explanation detailing why they do it the way they do, made me realize they have a point. It's not so much a taste as a texture and color thing. The texture of my soup was lighter and airier than I was going for, and the color wasn't the rich deep red I expected. So don't be a know-it-all. There's a reason ATK has a magazine, more cookbooks than I count, a TV show, a team of scientists and equipment testers, and a man in a red bow tie. All I have is this blog, so if you decide you want to make this, follow the damn recipe.
Cream of Tomato Soup
2 (28) ounce cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
4 large shallots, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons brandy or dry sherry
salt and cayenne pepper
1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Seed the tomatoes and spread in a single layer on the foil. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Bake until all the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes being to color, about 30 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off the foil; transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, 7-10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Whisking constantly, gradually add the chicken broth, stir in the reserved tomato juice and the roasted tomatoes, Cover, increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend the flavors, about 10 minutes.
3. Strain the mixture into a medium bowl, rinse out the saucepan. Transfer the tomatoes and solids in the strainer to a blender; add one cup of the strained liquid and puree until smooth. Combine the puree mixture and remaining strained liquid in the saucepan. Add the cream, and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the brandy and season with salt and pepper to taste.
1. As I was typing step 3, I was thinking, "That doesn't seem so hard. Why didn't I just do it?" Maybe because it is Sunday and I am still in my jammies.
2. For straining and seeding the tomatoes, I followed the recipe sidebar suggestion and did this over a strainer set in a bowl.
2. A note about the tomatoes: I combined two brands, because that's what I had. Both were San Marzanos: one can from Surfas, one from Gelsons. Apparently foodie stores know what they're about. The tomatoes from Surfas were nice and whole and easy to extract seeds from, the Gelsons tomatoes fell apart while I was handling them, making them hard to seed and almost too small to roast for the same length of time as those that were more intact.