Year after year I am always surprised to find the tables at the greenmarket piled high and teetering with tomatoes in October. By now it’s cool enough and the leaves are starting to turn, and I think that it is slightly, just maybe, possible that I am really tired of these perfectly imperfect heirloom tomatoes.
But then when I think about that very long and bleak season known by me more for its lack of local tomatoes than major holidays or snow, I realize that I must continue eating tomatoes until the very last day they are available. I think of it as a lucky and lovely burden. And I find that bridging the gap between summer and fall by turning these last tomatoes into a fall soup is the perfect send off until I can gleefully overindulge again next year.
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup
5 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved
2 bulbs garlic, ends sliced off but still in skin
4 medium leeks, dark green removed, the rest chopped into chunks
3 red or yellow peppers, halved and seeded
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups water
1 cup red or white wine
2 cups tomato juice
3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, pureed
1 tablespoon paprika
1 cup basil leaves
4 cups milk (soy milk for vegan)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450F degrees. In a large bowl toss tomatoes, garlic, leeks, peppers, 3 tablespoon olive oil and salt to taste. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, or less, until vegetables are soft and charred.
2. Let cool. Squeeze garlic out of skin and add with all the rest of the ingredients (except milk) in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and then lower heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add milk, then puree in a blender (hold cover on tightly), food processor, or immersion blender until completely smooth. Salt and pepper to taste, garnish with basil.
Makes 12 servings.