Much like I start celebrating the Christmas season the first moment it’s not extremely embarrassing to do so (i.e. the morning after Thanksgiving), I celebrate fall a little early. For some reason, September 1st feels like the beginning of fall to me.
It’s absolutely my favorite season. To my hopelessly romantic self, it’s almost like I can taste cinnamon and pumpkin and pecans in the air during the first instant I declare it’s fall, and until Christmas is over, the happiness doesn’t stop. Fall is pie season. Not that I really need an excuse to make a pie, but as long as there’s a legitimate one, I can pretend that I keep my pie-baking to an appropriate, unembarrassing, non-superfluous level.
Fall is also soup season to me. The air just starts to have a bite in it, and it rains sometimes, and there’s just something so incredibly, swooningly romantic about arriving home, umbrella and sweater in tow, to air that is thick with the smell of slow-simmering soup. Especially when you’re married to Michael, who lets you wrap up in your very most especially comfy blanket on the couch and slurp that soup while watching old movies or You’ve Got Mail.
Speaking of that delightful, patient boy, I must tell you that Michael doesn’t like tomato soup. Or, rather, Michael didn’t like tomato soup. I myself have no aversion to the canned, condensed version, or any version for that matter, but any time Michael says he doesn’t like something I love, I make it my personal mission to find a way that makes that something lovable to him.
And this was how I did it. I made homemade tomato soup, inspired by Ina Garten, with roasted roma tomatoes, canned tomatoes, lots of basil, and a touch of cream. Oh, sweet heavens above, it was divine. And Michael liked it so much he ate seconds and leftovers. And I rejoiced.
Anyway, I thought it was the perfect season kickoff for soup. Despite what you might think, this soup freezes well. I made it with cream and didn’t experience the slightest change in texture or appearance after freezing and thawing it. Which makes it perfect for a quick dinner or lunch when it’s chilly outside.
Sigh…welcome to fall, dear reader.
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tsp coarse salt (or 1 tsp regular)
- 1½tsp black pepper
- 3lbs roma tomatoes, halved
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2c diced sweet onion
- ¼-1/2tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28oz) can plum/roma tomatoes and their juice
- 4c chicken stock
- 2-3c lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- ½c cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
- Toss roma tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and spread into a single layer (I placed mine cut side up). Roast at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, saute onion in butter until transluscent and soft. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and saute 1-2 minutes or till fragrant. Add canned tomatoes and juices, chicken stock and ⅔ of the basil. Add the roasted tomatoes to the soup pot and break them up with your spoon. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Run the soup through a food mill to remove all the lumps, skins, and seeds. If you don’t have a food mill, you can puree the soup in a blender or food processor in batches, then run the soup through a seive. Return the soup to your soup pot, stir in the last third of the basil for garnish, and stir in the cream. Heat through and serve with something fabulous.