(recipe from Tyler Florence via Food Network)
2.5 lbs fresh tomatoes (I use a mix of whatever is at the store and looks good)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small yellow onions, sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional
Madeira sherry, optional
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onion slices onto a baking tray. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until carmelized.
Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot. Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.
Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I like making this soup first of all because I think it tastes much better than any tomato soup you could buy on the market *and* it allows me to control what's going into it - including salt. I also like making it because there is just something so comforting about watching a big pot of soup come together bit by bit and turn from dark red to almost pale pink after adding the cream; and smelling it as it cooks? Yum.
Using the immersion blender helps take care of any large pieces of skin or pulp as well as blend the tomatoes with the garlic and onion. You *could* squeeze the pulp out of the tomatoes before you start but I generally don't. Sometimes I've strained the soup after blending it to remove any larger pieces of skin/pulp or tomato seeds but I don't find it necessary. I like a more rustic feel to the soup but you could do it if you don't care for the texture of the occasional piece of tomato skin or seed.
The addition of cream changes it into more than just tomato broth. It gives an added weight on the tongue that is much more velvety and smooth than a broth would be; it helps eliminate some of the acidic nature of the tomatoes. I also like using the shery for just a little bit of bite. It blends well with the cream and tomatoes and leaves a nice aftertaste on the tongue - kind of an extra layer of flavor you're not expecting and are pleasantly surprised by it.
I don't have an exact measurement for this; rather, I pour a little bit at a time and let the soup continue to simmer over low heat until the sherry is blended and then taste, adding more salt and/or pepper if necessary. Once I was out of sherry and ended up using some Absolut Vodka in a pinch and that also worked well. I guess you could call it a cousin to the Bloody Mary :).
This soup is great with some nice crusty bread smeared with butter or some Wheat Thins and sharp cheddar cheese.