Alas, fall is here and this week I harvested the last of my summer crop: sun gold cherry tomatoes, yellow heirlooms, and purple basil. It’s been cool and a little dreary here in the Bay Area these past few weeks and even though my tomato plants are still producing fruit, I know the lower temperatures and shorter days mean those little green marbles are unlikely to ripen before the first frost. Indeed, a gusty wind sent leaves swirling around my car this evening as I waited for the stoplight to change at the bottom of my hill. I turned my head and peered into my neighbor’s living room, where her kids were pasting Halloween decorations to the windows, already decked out in full costume. Her six-year-old fairy princess waved to me with her sparkly wand.
What should one do with tomatoes in the fall? Why, make a warm and creamy soup of course.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Chili Cream
[Makes two entree- or four appetizer-sized servings. Adapted from Epicurious.com]
For the tomato soup:
- 4 pounds heirloom tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
- 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable broth plus additional to thin the soup
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- fresh lemon juice to taste
For the chili cream:
- 1 fresh serrano chili or jalapeño pepper
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Make the tomato soup:
Spread the tomatoes, skin side down, in one layer in 2 foil-lined sheet pans, nestling the garlic cloves between the tomatoes, and bake the tomatoes and the garlic in a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the tomatoes are very soft and their skin is dark brown. Let the tomatoes and the garlic cool in the pans on cooling racks. In a heavy saucepan cook the shallot, the orégano, salt and pepper to taste in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the shallot is soft, add the tomatoes, the garlic (skins discarded), and 1 1/2 cups of the broth, and simmer the mixture, covered, for 15 minutes. In a blender or food processor purée the soup in batches until it is very smooth, forcing it as it is puréed through a fine sieve set over a clean bowl and whisk in the cream, additional broth if necessary if the soup is very thick, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. [The soup may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated in a saucepan over medium heat.]
Make the chili cream:
Seed and finely mince the chili pepper. Mince the garlic and mash to a paste using the flat face of the knife blade or a mortar and pestle. In a blender or food processor, blend together the chili, the garlic paste, and the créme fraîche until the mixture is combined well. (Be careful not to overblend the mixture or the cream may curdle.) Force the mixture through a fine sieve set over a small bowl. [The chili cream may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and brought to room temperature before serving.]
To serve the soup:
Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle some of the chili cream over each serving. Serve with warm crusty bread and a bottle of wine… I suggest Pinot Grigio.