Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
We’re smack in the middle of the best time of year for tomatoes, so many of us are looking for ways to work this summery, savory fruit into our cooking whenever we can. Tomato soup is a classic vehicle for this. Recipes often start with whole, peeled, canned tomatoes, which can certainly yield a great result, but this dish highlights the fresh ingredient in its prime.
Start with well-ripened, heavy tomatoes that are soft to the touch and amply juicy. I called on my preferred technique of a high-temperature roast for the tomatoes, which concentrates their flavors and brings out their natural sweetness. I found this meant I could skip the addition of sugar, another common ingredient in tomato soups. Cutting the tomatoes into thick slices rather than crushing them promoted a nice even roast.
A little bit of crushed red pepper goes a long way here, bringing another layer of flavor that plays off the sweetness. Using vegetable or chicken stock instead of water will add depth too and might be a good call if your tomatoes aren’t at ideal ripeness, but stock isn’t necessary. I used water and let the pure tomato flavor lead the way.
Typically, I’ll stir any herbs into my tomato soup toward the end of the cooking process to keep their flavors and color fresh; for this recipe, I worked basil and parsley into a quick crema to spoon on top. The sour cream–based mixture, thinned out with some heavy cream and seasoned with salt, cuts the heat from the red pepper flakes and adds tangy richness as you swirl it into the soup. Don’t feel tied to those particular herbs—this is a prime opportunity to use up any excess ones you have on hand. I would stick with more tender herbs rather than ones like rosemary or thyme that could interrupt the smooth texture, but if you do use those, chop them finely so they can better incorporate into the crema.
For a red wine that’s relatively light on tannins and has enough acidity to stand up to the tomatoes without going overboard and clashing with the spice, I went with a French pick, Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2017. The purity and bright red fruit flavors of this Grenache-Syrah blend made for a complementary match that further enhanced the tomatoes’ sweetness, as did the herbal hints on the finish, especially with a slight chill on the wine from a brief spell in the fridge.
8 & $20: Spicy Roasted-Tomato Soup with Herb Crema
Pair with a medium-bodied wine with red fruit flavors and moderate acidity, such as Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2017 (88 points, $15).
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for roasting tomatoes
- 4 pounds tomatoes, preferably very ripe, sliced thick (about 1 inch) and cored
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease with olive oil. Spread out the tomato slices in a single layer on the baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt. Transfer to the oven and roast on the top rack for 35 to 40 minutes, flipping the tomato slices halfway through, until a light char develops and the juices are bubbling. If only one of your baking sheets can fit on the top rack at a time, swap the pans when you flip the tomatoes at the halfway point.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, 2 1/2 tablespoons of heavy cream and a large pinch of salt. Gently fold in the herbs, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Once the tomatoes are done, use tongs to pull off and discard the skins from the tomatoes. (They’ll come off easily once roasted.) Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for about 2 minutes until garlic is softened and fragrant, then reduce heat to medium low.
4. Add the roasted tomatoes, curling up the sides of the foil to ensure you’re getting all the juices. Add a cup of either vegetable stock, chicken stock or water and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to combine, gently breaking up the tomatoes as you go. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.
5. Carefully transfer to a blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender), then return to the pot. Season to taste with salt, then stir in 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Divide into bowls and top with a small spoonful of the herb crema. Serves 4.