Thursday, May 27, 2010

ROASTED TOMATO, ORANGE AND BASIL SOUP

By August I am always in search of the perfect tomato. Summer finds me craving big, luscious, juicy heirloom tomatoes that up until a few years ago we never saw on the market. Let alone choose between them. I first enjoyed a variation of this soup at Chez Panisse in Berkeley about 20 years ago. Alice always has a way with creating bold flavors out of a few choice ingredients. I savored this idea and back to my restaurant my friend Steve had just come back from Spain and was talking of a salad with Valencia oranges and vine ripened tomatoes. Say no more! This is one of my favorite summer soups, enjoyed hot or cold, alone or with someone!

ROASTED TOMATO, ORANGE AND BASIL SOUP

3 lbs. ripe heirloom tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 navel oranges, peeled, seeded and cut into quarters
¼ c. plus 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ T. kosher salt
2 t. fresh ground black pepper
2 c. chopped sweet yellow onions
28 oz. can organic tomatoes and their juice
¼ c. chopped garlic
¼ c. brown sugar
¼ t. crushed red chili flakes
2 cups basil leaves, packed
2 c. water or more

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the tomatoes, orange, salt, pepper and ¼ c. olive oil together and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. In a stock pot sauté the onions, garlic, the remaining olive oil, butter, brown sugar and red chili flakes until soft and translucent. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, water, oven roasted oranges and ripe tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes and pass the mixture through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade or pulse on/off in a food processor. Taste and adjust seasonings. Soup can be served hot or cold, and garnished with more basil, yogurt, sour cream or crème fraiche.