The first two items item I made from the bounty in Grandma's garden were old favorite soups.
One was Butternut Squash Soup. I made it the same way I've made it before, and it was a hit -- so much so that I didn't get a chance to take a picture! As before, the cinnamon croutons were a tasty touch.
The other was Roasted Tomato Soup. I wrote about it a couple of years ago, in this post, when I wasn't geeky enough to be taking pictures of food. This time, I made a few changes to the recipe. I garnished the soup with just a little heavy cream, which was reminiscent of a trip Grandma and I (along with my Mom) took to Ireland -- almost 20 years ago! They made delicious cream soups there, and always garnished it with heavy cream. Somehow mine doesn't look as nice as theirs did, though. I also cut back on the fresh basil (because it's so expensive in the supermarket) and used some dried Italian seasoning. I also added a bit of sugar to bring out the flavor of the tomato.
(P.S. I just submitted this to Tastespotting, and it's on there! Yeah! If you've never been on this drool-worthy site, you must check it out.)
Roasted Tomato Soup with Bruschetta Croutons
Yield: 8 one-cup servings
For the soup:
12 large (about 4 pounds) tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
12 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups cold water
heavy cream, for garnish (optional)
For the bruschetta:
1 loaf country-style bread (I used a Wegmans’ batard)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt (I used roasted garlic gray sea salt)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Prepare the tomatoes. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the oil, the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes on a nonreactive* baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until very dark in spots, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Prepare the bruschetta. Cut the bread crosswise into slices about 1-inch thick. Lightly brush the slices on both sides with oil and season with salt. Place the slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until the bruschetta are golden brown and just beginning to crisp, about 7 minutes.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the onions, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are very soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the 2 cups basil leaves and saute with the onions for about 1 minute.
Add the roasted tomatoes, water, dried Italian seasoning, and sugar to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Puree the tomato mixture in a blender (start at slow speed and increase gradually). The mixture should be smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
You can prepare the soup to this point and refrigerate it.
I served the soup garnished with the heavy cream, and with bruschetta on the side for dipping and sopping up every drop of the soup.
* Do not use aluminum or cast iron when cooking with tomatoes or wine. Stick with non-reactive cookware such as enamel, Pyrex, or stainless steel. I know this is a rule, but I don't really know why...