“Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what’s for lunch.”
A Modern Interpretation on a Classic Lunchtime Fave.
I’ve written many times about what can best be described as a rather idyllic childhood growing up in the country on the St. Lawrence River. My winter memories of skating on the river and skiing across the fields that surrounded my house are vivid and precious. I was the youngest of my siblings and I by a few years and all of my friends lived a car ride away. As a result, I learned to amuse myself.
Of course, it was also during a time in our history when parenting might not unkindly be referred to as benevolent neglect. Don’t misunderstand, I was well loved and cared for but parents were slightly less, uhhhhh, involved back then. They trusted us to avoid obvious dangers like open water, snarling dogs and to recognize the signs of incoming bad weather. If you got strung up on a fence post by your snow pants or followed rabbit tracks unknowingly onto the cranky farmer’s land who had a penchant for shooting kids with rock salt, you sorted stuff out on your own and learned to run or ski very quickly while in a crouch.
While I may have been left to my own devices, which in retrospect seems a sort of surprising amount of time, I was always sent out into the wilds with a backpack of food and juice. Tiny boxes of raisins, cold meat paste sandwiches (don’t ask) and an apple were the norm but occasionally I would get a thermos and it was typically piping hot tomato soup. I guess those were the days my Mum anticipated I might find myself strung up for longer than normal.
But it’s lunch we’re here to discuss rather than the laid back parenting of the 70’s and tomato soup remains one of my faves.
Remember last week when I showed you the super easy steps to Homemade Chicken Stock? This week you’re going to press that delicious rich broth into service with a lunchtime classic gone wild, Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup with Chilli Aioli & Caramelized Shallots. Pretty big name for a stunningly simple soup.
Winter, although beautiful in many ways, is not particularly kind to tomatoes. They are shipped and stored and generally left with little to no actual flavour. I refuse to live without tomatoes on a regular basis and so I coax as much flavour as possible from them by slow roasting them with a few cloves of smashed garlic. If you’ve tried my Bucatini with Oven Roasted Tomatoes & Garlic, you’ll know that this is a surefire way to achieve this goal!
The addition of chilli aioli and caramelized shallots make a very pretty addition if I do say so myself. They were designed to add another flavour element and although not 100% necessary they are awfully good with this soup and take very little extra effort.
I’ve linked the recipe to the aioli above and to make it “chilli” aioli just add, you guessed it, chilli flakes! To taste as always. The caramelized onions are also wonderfully simple; thinly slice and cook slowly over medium-low heat in a drizzle of oil until gorgeous deep brown, set aside on some paper towel until you’re ready to garnish your soup.
I’m forgoing a menu suggestion today because SOUP! (and also I was having some technical difficulties which I will not bore you with… hopefully they’ll be worked out by next week.
Wine Pairing: It would seem that I stumped Greg this week. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say I am beginning to suspect he is not a fan of soup FOR SHAME! He did finally work his way around to a wonderful pairing however!
“That’s actually the hardest one you have given me. Tomato and garlic will be a really strong flavour and lots of acidity. Let me think… (ed note. email #1) … One reason I’m having trouble is also that I don’t really like wine with soup. It’s like having a cookie with your breakfast muffin. Still thinking… (ed note. email #2 also WHAT??? I’m sorry but you grew up in the same house as me and when you are served meat paste sandwiches you roll with the punches dude, including wine with your breakfast cookie) … Maybe Rhone. Needs something peppery. Rioja, a Carignan grape… (ed note. email #3 – I guess I really did stump him!) … Cairanne! (ed note. email #4 And FINALLY a decision! Well done Greg!))
Enjoy & Namaste!
- 8-12 tomatoes, thickly sliced (the amount of tomatoes will depend upon the size you bring home, if they're on the vine you'll choose closer to 8 but if they're those sweet little campari tomatoes you'll need closer to 12 - fill the roasting tray!)
- 2-3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of a knife
- drizzle olive oil
- 4 cups Homemade Chicken Broth (although a good quality store bought works very well too)
- ¼ - ⅓ cup heavy cream to finish
- S&P to taste
- OPTIONAL GARNISH
- Aoili with added chilli flakes to taste
- Caramelized shallots
- Slow roast tomatoes and garlic in a 275° oven for about 45 minutes to an hour
- Warm the chicken broth in a large pot and add cooked tomatoes and garlic
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes allowing flavours to merge and mellow
- Using your immersion blender (or transfer to a blender when adequately cooled) puree the soup until the desired consistency is reached. You could at this point choose to strain your soup if a smoother consistency is preferred. I personally happen to like the seeds.
- Return to heat and add cream
- Garnish as desired