I have to warn you, I may start waxing sentimental over fall during the next few weeks. I love this time of year — early fall — when I can still get tomatoes and corn but pears, squash, and figs are also in market. The stress of the holidays hasn’t kicked in, an evening walk is comfortable in a long sleeve shirt, and the windows can be left open all night to enjoy the chilly breeze. It’s the specific time of year when seeing a pumpkin on someone’s steps isn’t just another pumpkin and when thoughts of ghouls and wicked witches are delightfully wholesome.
The leaves start to turn—but aren’t taking over the yard—and the idea of spending the weekend snuggling on the couch with my fiance seems just right. And then there’s soup. Soup shines in fall; I’m not conflicted about it, like I can be with summer soups. Roasted tomato and garlic soup, in particular, is suited to early fall, when roasted garlic is wholly, utterly, in my thoughts again. Sticky, sweet, and slyly pungent, roasted garlic will turn you on your head, and combining it with its true love, the roasted tomato, is even better.
You’ll have to act quickly to make this soup. At least in the Northeast, tomato season is coming to a close, which is a sad, sad thing. So sad, you know, that I think it’d be okay to make this soup with tomatoes that are a little less-than, if you don’t catch any before they are gone. Or, as I know I will this winter, try making this with canned whole San Marazanos by just taking them out of the can and washing off the excess sauce before continuing with the recipe (you can leave the tomatoes whole, here.)
If you like tomato soup, you’ll love this one; it tastes like tomato soup should taste, not too salty like the processed varieties, nor too sweet. The garlic adds background depth and a touch of caramel sweetness, but isn’t going to prohibit anyone from kissing strangers later in the day. And, at least for me, this soup epitomizes the beginning of fall even more than meatloaf. I may be a little biased, though, since this soup is also a part of my livelihood. I’ve started a little project, the Stockton Soup Lady. I’m selling soups about town and this is one of my favorites. Homemade Soups, Hand Delivered is my slogan, and I’m a wee bit proud of thinking it up. It’s a teeny-tiny project now, and I rather like it that way: I can spend lots of time going from farm to farm, choosing my ingredients, and I don’t have to bribe friends for freezer space to store all the chicken stock I’m making. It’s really a lot of fun.
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup
adapted from Gourmet
4 lb tomatoes, halved lengthwise
8 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/3 cup heavy cream
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°F.
Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan and add garlic to pan. Drizzle tomatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes and garlic 1 hour, then cool in pan on a rack. Peel garlic.
Cook onion, oregano, and sugar in butter in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, and stock and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
Purée soup in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), then force through a sieve into cleaned pot, discarding solids. Stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste and simmer 2 minutes. Serves 6-8.