the appetizer:

New Classic Family Dinners: More Than 200 Everyday Recipes and Menus From the Award-winning Campanile Restaurant by Mark Peel with Martha Rose Shulman, includes recipes like Roasted Tomato Soup; Rabbit Cacciatore; and Monkfish Osso Buco with Risotto Milanese and Gremolata.

Cookbook Profile

Roasted Tomato Soup

Makes 6 to 8 generous servings, plus some extra for the freezer

Roasted Tomato Soup


This tomato soup is comforting, thick, and creamy, though there's no cream in it. The tomatoes are roasted first, then cooked again with a base of onion, celery, leeks, and herbs. The soup is twice blended, first through a food mill and then with an immersion blender. It may sound complicated, but believe me, that final puree with the immersion blender really pulls all the flavors together and makes a superior soup. You're making a large quantity here, so your efforts will get you two batches, one for the freezer and one for tonight's dinner. Don't bother making it if all you can find are hard, pink tomatoes. Juicy heirlooms, such as Cherokees or Marvels, are best, but good Romas will work too. If you're using juicy farmers' market tomatoes, you'll need 5 pounds; if you're using Romas, which are fleshier but not as intensely flavored, use 6.

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with the racks adjusted to the center and the top third. If using round tomatoes, cut them in half at the equator. If using Romas, cut them in half lengthwise. Toss in a very large bowl (or in batches in a smaller one) with 6 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Place the tomatoes, cut side down, on one or two baking pans with 1-inch sides, however they'll fit, and pour on the juices from the bowl. Place on the middle and upper racks of the oven and roast for 45 minutes, until the skins are blistered and lightly browned and the tomatoes are soft. Remove carefully from the oven and set aside.

2. Toss the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread on a baking sheet in an even layer. Place in the oven and toast for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp.

3. Meanwhile, make the vegetable base. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, leeks, fresh red pepper; dried chile, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. When the vegetables just begin to sizzle, turn the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender and lightly colored. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Add the tomatoes, bread cubes, and 1 quart of water to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring from time to time so that nothing sticks to the bottom and burns.

5. Remove the soup from the heat and put through a food mill fitted with the fine blade. Return to the pot, and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth and silky. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

6. Heat through and serve, garnished with a toasted slice of baguette and a drizzle of olive oil.


Washing Herbs

Always wash herbs gently so that they don't bruise. This is especially important for basil, which will oxidize and change flavor quickly if it's bruised.

Using Chopped Garlic

Garlic oxidizes quickly once you chop it, and the flavor will change, becoming more acrid. This is why it's always best to chop garlic as close as possible to the time you are going to use it.

How to Clean Leeks

To clean the leeks, which are almost always sandy and often caked with mud, cut away the root end. Slice the leeks crosswise and place in a bowl. Cover with cold water and swish the leek slices around in the water. Lift from the water and place in a strainer. Drain the water, rinse the bowl, and fill with water again. Return the leeks to the water, swish around one more time, and lift out into the strainer. If the water in the bowl is sandy, repeat one more time, or until there is no longer any sand. Rinse the sliced leeks with cold water and drain on paper towels.


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This page created January 2010