Sunday, August 12, 2012

Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup with Basil

I can't imagine a life without grilled cheese and tomato soup. Although I still enjoy Campbell's condensed tomato soup and American cheese on wheat from time to time, I've really taken to fancy-ing up my grilled cheeses lately. I typically enjoy Campbell's Select Harvest Harvest Tomato with Basil soup with my sophisticated grilled cheeses, and with a few days of unseasonably cool weather lately, it was time to invest a little effort in the soup as well. There's no shortage of beautiful tomatoes at the farmers' market these days, from Roma to plum to countless heirloom varieties, and this recipe is ripe for experimentation with any variety that strikes your fancy. Roasting the vegetables intensifies their flavor, with enough fresh flavor remaining to make this dish still perfect for the summertime. Low-fat milk gives the soup ample creaminess without making it heavy and generous amounts of basil, fresh from the garden, add an extra level of freshness and brightness. As with so many soups, the flavors get even more complex as they blend and meld over time, making this a different delight each time you dig in over the course of a few days. If your garden is bursting at seams with tomatoes, this recipe is the perfect way to put them to good use. (And for the record, I made a sharp cheddar, apple, and Dijon grilled cheese to go with this soup).

Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup with Basil
from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious
serves 6

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups water
2 3/4 cups (about) low-fat (1%) milk
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange onion, tomatoes, carrots and garlic cloves on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are tender and brown, turning occasionally, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly. Peel garlic cloves. Transfer vegetables to large bowl (do not clean baking sheet).

2. Add 1 cup water to baking sheet, scraping up browned bits; add to blender, then add half of vegetables and puree until smooth. Transfer to large saucepan. Add remaining vegetables and 1 1/2 cups water to blender and puree. Transfer to same saucepan. Gradually add enough milk to soup to thin to desired consistency. Stir in 1/4 cup basil. Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

3. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil and serve.

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