Time to use up the smoked roma tomatoes that hubby made, and I threw into the freezer. Add to that the bit of tomato paste in the fridge, and the 3 carrots that were left.
Easy, filling and comforting tomato soup...
...with some pull-apart cheese buns, that I added some fresh thyme and roasted garlic to.
As far as the smoked tomatoes go, they can be exchanged for canned plum tomatoes, or oven roasted roma tomatoes, as not everyone is as lucky as I am, having a husband who enjoys smoking various foods for me to cook! If you still want to achieve the smoky flavour, add some bacon into the recipe.
I started off with the bread dough, then put the soup on to simmer while it rose. Then while the bread was baking, I finished off the soup.
Measure out the flavourings for the bread first:
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 head of garlic, roasted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup grated cheddar
Into the bowl of a stand mixer, measure out:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon active dried yeast.
Add 2 1/2 cups warm water and leave it to start bubbling, about 2 minutes.
When the yeast starts to bubble, add the flavourings in, along with:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 heaping cups of wholewheat flour
3 - 4 cups all purpose flour
Use the dough hook on a medium to low speed, adding the all purpose flour as needed, until it forms a ball of shaggy looking dough, that is not too wet and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter, and finish kneading by hand, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a draft free spot of your kitchen to rise until it has at least doubled in volume, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When the dough has risen, lightly punch the air out and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F, and lightly grease 2 loaf pans.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces; form one piece into a regular loaf and place into one of the loaf pans, leaving it to rise until doubled again.
Divide the remaining dough into 10 pieces, rolling each into a ball.
Place the 10 dough balls into the other loaf pan, and leave to rise again, while the oven heats.
When the balls and the large loaf have doubled in size again, brush the tops with cold water and bake for 45 minutes. The tops will be golden and crispy, and when you remove them from the pans they will sound hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf. The loaf and buns should be removed from the pans to a cooling rack immediately, to avoid sweating.
Place the warm pull apart buns on a plate, and allow people to help themselves...pulling your own warm bun from the 'loaf' is part of the fun of this bread!
Now for the soup...
Heat a large pot, and drizzle in a bit of olive oil.
3 large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
Salt and pepper
Cook these until the onions start to soften slightly.
Add the herbs and tomato paste:
a few sprigs of fresh parsley
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Stir the tomato paste in well, and cook for a couple of minutes.
Next add in the tomatoes. I used about 12 smoked roma tomatoes.
There is no need to peel them, as the soup will be pureed and strained.
Now add in enough chicken stock to cover the tomatoes. I used about 2 - 3 cups.
Allow the soup to come to a boil, then turn it down and let it simmer until the carrots and onions are soft.
Using a hand blender (my preference), blender or food processor, puree the soup.
Then strain it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds and tomato skins.
Return the soup to the stove to reheat. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Adjust the consistency if needed, by adding more chicken stock, or even whipping cream.
I served the soup garnished with crumbled goat cheese., passing the warm bread at the table.
- The bread and buns can be frozen.
- Flavouring the bread is a great way to use up little bits of things such as olives, cheese, cooked onions, fresh herbs and adding extra spice such as curry powder, sambal oelek (garlic chili paste) or canned chipotle peppers will add a boost of flavour.
- The buns can be rolled and baked as individual buns on a parchment lined baking sheet; adjust the cooking time to approximately 20 - 25 minutes. Turn one over and knock on the bottom; if it sounds hollow, it is done.
- This soup is a basic method that can be used for most vegetables. Vegetables such as carrots, butternut squash, parsnip, sweet potato will thicken themselves. Vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, roasted red pepper, cauliflower or broccoli will need to have potato added to help thicken the soup.
- Onions can be switched for leeks or shallots, or even a combination.
- Personalize the soup by using herbs or spices of your choice...paprika, chipotle, cayenne, basil, fennel seeds, cumin.
- If you like a chunky soup rather than a smooth one, after it is pureed and strained add in things such as black beans, bacon, corn, peeled and chopped tomatoes.
- As I mentioned at the start of this post, the smoked tomatoes can be substituted with canned plum tomatoes, or roasted roma tomatoes. To roast the tomatoes, cut them in half, place in a baking dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs such as basil or thyme. Drizzle with olive oil and roasted at 400F until the skins wrinkle and the tomatoes start to colour slightly.
- If you choose to add bacon, I suggest cooking the diced bacon, removing it and the fat from the pan, and then proceeding with the recipe in the same pan. Add the bacon back after pureeing the soup, or use it as a garnish.
- Garnishes for the soup can include sour cream, pesto, crumbled soft cheese such as goat or blue cheese, croutons, cooked diced bacon, grated hard cheese such as white cheddar or Parmesan.
- The soup will keep in the fridge for 2 - 3 days, and also freezes well.