Nothing speaks to our hearts like tomato soup. With the first spoonful, childhood days rush back and fill us with warm memories. Paired with grilled cheese sandwiches, nothing fills your tummy and soul like tomato soup. Try changing it up a bit by roasting the tomatoes first with onions and peppers. A more refined, grown up flavor that you and your family will love! Roasting is the perfect way to prepare vegetables for parties. You can prep them ahead of time and pop them in the oven when your guests arrive. By the time you are ready to sit down to dinner, the vegetables will be golden, softened, and full of flavor. Roasting brings out their sweetness, lightly caramelizing their natural sugars. It develops depths of flavors you never knew vegetables could have. And it does it all without requiring your attention at the stove!
Try roasting other vegetables too. Cauliflower and broccoli are wonderful together. Roasted potatoes and other root vegetables with rosemary are a great accompaniment to grilled meats. Cooking carrots and apples together is perfect for the fall and a lovely side dish for Thanksgiving. You may discover that your children are much more willing to try roasted veggies because they don’t look like “green stuff”!
If you don’t already own one, you need a good-quality roasting pan. Heavy, with handles and tall sides, it is one of the true workhorses of the kitchen, and you will use it over and over for many years to come. I am still using pans from my mother! This is another case where investing in high quality cookware will save you money in the long run and you’ll have tools to pass along to the next generation of cooks in your family.
Now, while they are plentiful, roast some pans of tomatoes as another way to enjoy this amazing fruit/vegetable. Try other herbs with them too. Oregano, cilantro, and thyme are also delicious! Once roasted you can preserve them for eating during the cold winter months when you are craving the flavor of summer.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you want pure tomato puree, you can leave out the onions and peppers. If your family doesn’t like peppers, you can leave them out. I also like to roast tomatoes and keep them in the refrigerator to use for an impromptu pasta dinner. Pour a lot of oil over the tomatoes, roast them, and store covered with the oil. When you’re ready to make dinner, cook pasta and toss with some of the tomatoes and oil. YUM!
Kitchen Skill: Using a Food Mill
Why: The easiest way to remove skins and seeds from fruits and vegetables
How: Your food mill comes with a series of plates, for this application you want the one with the smallest holes. Set the food mill over a large bowl and add some of the tomatoes. Turn the handle clockwise, crushing the vegetables and pressing them through the plate. Occasionally turn the handle the opposite direction to loosen any pulp that may be stuck. Continue to add vegetables and the juices until you’ve pureed everything. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom of the food mill to get all the delicious puree.
Food mills are perfect for mashing potatoes, making applesauce, and pureeing other cooked fruits and vegetables. The beauty of the food mill is that you don’t have to peel anything first!
- 20 to 25 ripe medium to large heirloom tomatoes
- 2 large red bell peppers (or other sweet bell or gypsy peppers)
- 2 large white or yellow onions, peeled
- 1/2 cup or more of good quality olive oil
- Fresh basil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Special Equipment:
- Non-reactive roasting pan – stainless steel is preferred
- Food mill
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- The tomatoes can be any size; 20 to 25 medium-large ones, or nearly double that if the tomatoes are small. Remove the cores of the tomatoes, but leave them whole. Place them upright in the roasting pan, packing them loosely.
- Remove the tops and seeds from the peppers, split them into 3 to 4 parts each, and place them in between the tomatoes. Cut the root ends off the onions and quarter them. Add them to the tomatoes. Tuck basil leaves throughout, saving some for a garnish. Pour the olive oil liberally over the tops and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast tomatoes in the hot oven until they soften and just start to brown, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the tomatoes you’re using.
- Remove the pan from the oven and working in batches, carefully transfer the tomatoes and pan juices to the food mill set over a large bowl and fitted with the finest mesh filter. Turn the handle to force the vegetables through the food mill. The skins and seeds will be left behind and the bowl will contain your vegetable puree. If you prefer, after you’ve pureed the vegetables in the food mill (which removes the seeds and skins) you can then transfer to a blender or food processor and puree again for a smoother texture.
- Reheat if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings and garnish with minced basil leaves. Serve immediately.