Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup

ingredientsI don’t often share recipes. Its not that I am hoarding my kitchen secrets – its that I don’t often make the same meal twice so putting on paper what I actually made is a challenge for me. But this particular kitchen gem is a healthy, hearty soup that I make a version of once or twice a year in a BIG batch to freeze. I like having homemade meals on hand for my family but I also like having nutritious and delicious meals I can bring to friends and family if they are in need. With all the tomatoes and carrots in this soup, it’s exploding with vitamin C so I often bring it to those nursing a cold or flu. Nothing says I love you like home cooking!

You can use fresh ripe roma tomatoes for this recipe but I find that cost prohibitive for my family. Instead I used two 2.89kg cans of whole, peeled roma tomatoes. I found them at Costco for $1.98 a can. Drain the can but reserve that beautiful red liquid to later add to your soup. Place the whole tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season ingredients3liberally with salt and pepper. Add a few leaves of fresh basil to roast with the tomatoes. Roast for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. You will know its done by the smell, its a sweet tomato aroma in the air. You will also see the tomatoes caramelizing slightly. You can cut the tomatoes lengthwise to help the process but it’s a step I skip. Be careful of the steam when you open your oven, those little tomatoes hold a lot of liquid and it has to go somewhere! For this very large batch I used 2 of these giant cans and roasted 2 pans simultaneously, rotating once half way through the cooking process.

ingredients2While roasting, heat a few tablespoons of butter in a large stock pot and sweat out 4 large sweet onions, coarsely chopped. Add about 6 large and slightly crushed cloves of garlic and let them get to know the onions for about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper and wait until the onions are clear and lovely but do not caramelize. Add in your chicken stock (you can use veggie if that’s your preference). I make my own stock and freeze it. By using leftover chicken or turkey bones and by freezing onion, celery and carrot scraps I can make stock for literally nothing. I can control salt and eliminate preservatives. But if this isn’t your thing, stock from a carton works just fine. I used about 3 litres of stock. Bring stock and onions to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add in your carrots. I used two 1lb bags ($0.98 each). I cut off the ends (added that to my frozen scraps bag for the next time I make stock) and coarsely chopped. I washed them very well and did not peel them but you certainly can. I think I am getting lazy in my old age 😉

Add 4 large bay leaves and simmer over medium heat. Once your tomatoes are beautifully roasted they can be added to your pot. Simmer for about a half an hour, remove bay leaves, add the liquid from your canned tomatoes and add a robust handful of fresh, coarsely chopped basil. Simmer for an hour or so, it really isn’t an exact science. Next introduce your immersion blender to your simmering concoction. Show it no mercy as you blend all the coarse pieces into soupy submission. The texture is really up to you. I prefer a rustic texture but ingredients4others want it silky smooth so blend according to your preference. Add salt and pepper to taste. This time around I wasn’t as happy with the overall sweetness of the soup, perhaps the carrots were not in prime season when picked. I added a bit more sugar then I have in the past, it was about 6 tbsp. I also added a few tbsp of chilli flakes for some discreet heat. If using store bought stock you may want to add some poultry seasoning and maybe some thyme for a more robust flavor. Keep tasting until you are happy with it. Then add about 2 cups of milk. I had whole on hand so that’s what I used but again, it’s not an exact science.

I made about 7 meals large enough to feed 4 adults. If you are making a batch this size you will also need at least a 14litre stock pot, a few tbsp of butter, olive oil, salt and pepper, a few tbsp of sugar depending on the freshness, quality and season of your produce. You will also need an immersion blender.ingredients5

As you can see, it cost me about $1.37 to feed four adults a meal portion of this soup. We added some fresh garlic bread and we were all very full. You could easily have this with a salad or grilled cheese and be very full or you could use it as a side dish or an appetizer. Since my in-laws were coming over (don’t kid yourself, I wouldn’t have made this soup today if my kids weren’t with their grandparents!) I garnished the soup with a sprinkle of feta and parmesan cheese topped with a fresh basil leaf. It was delish!

Though its more work to make then a boxed macaroni and cheese, which is about the same price, it is so much tastier and much healthier. And once its in your freezer, you have no excuse!

Canned Tomatoes $1.98 each x 2 = $3.96
1lb bag of Carrots $0.98 x 2 = $1.96
Garlic (half a head) Approximately $0.17
Chicken Stock (free if homemade) Approximately $4.00
Fresh Basil $2.78
4 large onions $0.75
$9.62 with homemade stock or$13.62 with purchased stock
7 Meals for 4 adults $1.37 per meal or $0.34 per portion(With homemade stock)or$1.95 per meal or $0.49 per portion(With purchased stock)