Making the Most of Sub-Par Tomatoes – Roasted Tomato and Garlic Bisque
With the weather getting warmer and the prospect of purchasing a less than tragic tomato in my near future, I decided to attempt to buy some for a caprese salad. Once I sliced into the first tomato I knew these were not going to live up to my expectations and were definitely not fit for a salad. Or a sandwich for that matter!
I’m a bit of a tomato snob….I thought I hated tomatoes all my life and always picked them out of salads or pried them off my burgers. I, later, realized that I didn’t hate tomatoes….what I hated was the poor excuse of a tomato that some produce company shamelessly sold to a grocery store or restaurant, most likely grown out of season in some third world county far, far away. I realized this after I bought a beautiful, perfectly, ripe heirloom tomato one summer in August and ate this thing as if it were an apple. Gorgeous, bright red slices with a sprinkle of sea salt. Pure heaven.
Back to the sad bag of plum tomatoes….they were ok, what one would expect when purchasing tomatoes out of season. The only thing I could do was roast them and make a soup. A Roasted Tomato Bisque….creamy and bursting with a rich, sweet, fantastic flavor….a great prelude to summer in my opinion.
The roasting “process” takes a while so I do recommend doing this on a not so hot day. My kitchen is tiny and heats up quickly when I’m using the oven for long periods of time. I like to make big batches of favorite soups that are time-consuming to prepare and freeze them for a quick weeknight meal.
I topped each bowl with small balls of fresh mozzarella and a few sprigs of basil. Served along side of a gooey French Onion Grilled Cheese sandwich, this soup would be spectacular on a chilly fall evening…..or with a light salad on a warm summer night.
For the Roasted Tomatoes:
3 pounds plum tomatoes seeded and halved
5 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the Roasted Garlic:
2 heads of garlic sliced in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Bisque:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion diced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon herbs de provence
1/4 cup red wine
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons sour cream
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons basil thinly sliced
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
On a large baking sheet, arrange tomatoes cut sides up. Arrange thyme sprigs on top of tomatoes and evenly sprinkle the oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper over the tomatoes. Roast in the oven for an hour and a half.
Wrap the garlic loosely in aluminum foil cut sides up and drizzle with olive oil. Seal the foil “pack” closed and place in the oven with the tomatoes. Roast for 1 hour.
In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the onions. Saute the onions until soft, add the oregano and herbs de provence. Continue sauteeing the onions for 1 minute.
Add the roasted tomatoes and garlic cloves by gently squeezing the bulbs (discard the thyme sprigs), stir to combine and cook for 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato juice and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat off.
With an immersion blender (handheld blender), puree the mixture until the tomatoes and skins are well blended. (Where an apron, this can get messy.) The mixture will still have a chunky texture. Stir in the sour cream, salt and pepper to taste and the basil.
When serving you can add fresh mozzarella and basil….the cheese holds it shape but becomes soft from the heat and is incredible when you eat it.