In all honesty, much baking hasn’t been done in the past few weeks. There was a lemon drizzle cake, some cookies, and a few other things, but that’s about it. Days have become busier, and fall is slowly beginning to settle in.
At the very moment that I write this, I sit with a cup of tea, and a notepad filled with notes for this post. Outside, rain collects in small puddles on the cobblestone walkway, clusters of friends gather under umbrellas and walk briskly to class. Some are running to class, and some are walking slowly- balancing an umbrella in one hand, and in the other, a large Starbucks cup.
It was like this last month. For an entire week, it rained. That week, if I remember correctly, was followed by a warm week- it wasn’t severe, but it did require the air conditioner to be turned on. After that, Hurricane Irene followed.
During the hurricane, all I could think about was the moment I made a this soup for myself, which I had made during the first week of much needed rain. I was home alone, we had a somewhat significant amount of tomatoes waiting to be used up, and the depressing grey clouds that covered the sky made me long for a bit of color in my day.
After a few moments of thinking what to do with the tomatoes, I preheated the oven, pulled a baking tray and cutting board out of the cupboard, and began chopping and slicing at onions, a small head of garlic, and the crimson red tomatoes. Everything was mixed on the baking tray with some olive oil (not extra-virgin), a spoonful of sugar- to help caramelize and bring out the sweetness of the red fruit, some salt & pepper and thyme- to accentuate and heighten the flavor.
The mixture was heated on a low flame with slug of cream and some chicken stock; meanwhile, a cast-iron skillet was heated, a generous slice cut from a loaf of fresh sourdough, and was toasted in the pan with butter. Once toasted, fresh mozzarella was torn and veiled over the toasted bread. The pan of cheese-covered bread was put under the broiler until the edges of the bread reached a fine line of golden & burnt, and the melted cheese was golden brown and bubbly.
The warm soup was tasted for seasoning and then ladled into my favorite enamel bowl, and the cheese-covered bread was bedecked with chives and set to float on top of the sunset colored soup. Quickly, I sat down, grabbed a spoon and cut into a corner of the crisp bread, making sure to get enough mozzarella, chives, and soup in one spoonful. The soup was creamy, velvety, sweet. The fresh chives added cleanliness; the soup had a slight smoky note from the roasted garlic. And the bread covered in fresh mozzarella that floated in the middle of the bowl completed the entire dish.
This soup tastes like a sexied-up version of this roasted tomato sauce that I shared with you last year. This recipe makes enough for about 2 servings, but I’d definitely double, triple, or quadruple the recipe, if need be. I only say this because two helpings wasn’t enough for me that day; I had to make more later. It’s that good.
1 ½lbs / 680g Ripe tomatoes (whatever you’ve on hand; I used plum & cherry), halved
1 medium-sized peeled Red onion or Cipollini onion, quartered
1 small head of Garlic, or four regular sized garlic cloves (skin on), top cut off
½ tablespoon Fresh thyme leaves (from about 3 springs) or ½ teaspoons dry thyme
1 teaspoon Natural Cane Sugar
Fine Grain Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra-virgin)
½ cup / 4oz / 85ml Chicken / Vegetable Stock (optional)
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Generous slice of fresh artisanal bread
Unsalted butter, room temperature
Fresh Mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375F / 190C / Gas Mark 5.
Spread the cut tomatoes, onion, garlic, and thyme on a baking tray or roasting tin (if you’re double/tripling/ quadrupling the recipe, use a roasting tin). Sprinkle with sugar, and season to taste with salt & pepper.
Coat with olive oil, and roast in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the tomatoes are about half their size, wrinkly, and some of the juices are caramelized on the bottom of the pan.
Tip the tomatoes and onions into a blender or food processor. Squeeze the contents out of the garlic bulb, and mash with the back of a fork, add to the tomatoes and onions. Pulse until smooth.
You can stop here if the soup is thin enough for your liking. If not, pour the rust red mixture into a large sauce pan, and thin the mixture with the stock and heavy cream. Heat the mixture on medium heat, until bubbly and warm.
Serve with toasted bread or mozzarella cheese-topped bread (preparation below)
Prepare the Cheese-Topped Bread
Heat a cast-iron (or oven-safe) pan on medium heat. Butter both sides of the bread, and toast the bread until golden brown. Top with fresh mozzarella, and put pan under broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Float on top of hot soup. Enjoy!