Several years ago my friend Chuck turned me on to this truly magnificent recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheese. Seriously. It’s even better than it looks in that post, if you can believe it. It’s like tomato soup and grilled cheese had a baby. A delicious, delicious baby.
Unfortunately, that first year, it was late in the season, and I only got to make a couple of meals worth, and then I had to wait eight long months until tomato season rolled around again. Ever since, every year between August and October, I make it a point to buy up as many tomatoes as I could afford, and store away as many jars of this soup as I can. It’s become my standard sauce for pretty much anything using tomatoes. In addition to making that delicious soup with broiled cheese, it’s my go-to sauce for a quick pasta meal all winter. Yum!
Instead of using paste tomatoes, I prefer to use more flavorful heirloom beefsteak or slicer tomatoes. The drawback is that they’ve got a higher water content than paste tomatoes, and reduce down to a smaller amount of tomato with more liquid. That’s easy enough to fix, though. I just skip the step of adding stock to thin the soup. And since they’re getting roasted right away, I’m happy to buy up bruised or ugly tomatoes, which discounted at my CSA. (Honestly, is there really such a thing as an ugly tomato?)
I place them in a 325-350 degree oven and cook for about an hour to an hour and a half, until they begin to caramelize. You can see how much liquid they give off. Because of that, I roast them in a casserole dish rather than a cookie sheet. I also include a whole onion cut into wedges in one of the pans.
I also roast up a whole head of garlic (peeled) in a foil packet, drizzled with a little olive oil. I mean… look at this gorgeousness! Can you imagine how heavenly the house smells while this is going on?
At this point, I add basil and oregano, and let things simmer. Actually, this is a good place to note that I often do this in stages. The roasting going on one evening, and the simmering, blending, and canning happening sometime during the next day or so.
Then, pretty quickly, while the soup is still hot, I put it in jars and drop them into my canning pot with the water already boiling. Fifteen minutes in the canning bath, and then out onto the counter to cool while I enjoy the tell-tale pop of the seals sealing.
As of this writing, I have set a new record for how many jars I’ve put up in one season. My count stands at 20.5 quarts, in a mix of quart and pint jars. That’s from four batches, with each batch about 13 pounds of tomatoes each. I’m already dreaming of all the things I’m going to cook up this winter!
Can I freeze this instead of canning?
Yes! Absolutely! If you use the jars, be sure to leave extra room at the top and keep the lids very loose. Or, you can use freezer bags or other containers. I can it because I can. Which is why I don’t put any meat or cheese in the sauce when I’m cooking it before canning, although I often do when I use it in meals later.
Can I change up the recipe? Add more veggies or other things?
You bet! I was toying with the idea of making some with mushrooms and other spices, but decided this time around to stick to the original plan of just tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. If I get more tomatoes next week, I might make a roasted tomato and pepper mixture to can, using up a lot of the peppers I’ve been meaning to cook up over the last couple of weeks.
Can I make it chunkier?
Certainly! I like it smooth, but chunky would be just as delicious and easy to can or freeze.
Do I have to save it for later?
This is the question I ask myself every time I make this. And the question Eric asks me as well. I don’t always can up all the sauce I’ve made. Sometimes it’s too good to not eat right then. The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen is not for preserving, but for cooking and eating that night. The reason I put away so much is because I want to enjoy it all winter long, and refuse to buy tomatoes out of season.