Roasted Tomato & Fennel Soup
It is the second week of January and it is cold outside. As I sit here typing away it is snowing, it is cold but not as cold as it was for the last couple of days. It is soup weather for sure. I love making soups, stews, caldos, asopados, and everything in between. My mother in law gave me these super cute “soup & sandwich” bowls for Christmas and I couldn’t wait to use them for a blog post. Well, I didn’t really have to wait long at all 🙂
I was able to take some days off during the holidays, I hope you did too. I had a great holiday season spending time with my family. I wrote a little bit about it on my last post of the year Fin de Año 2016, which for some reason didn’t get push through emails, so go check it out if you haven’t yet. Anyway, during my days off I decided to do NOTHING!!! By doing nothing I mean that I read cookbooks and food magazines that were piled up on my table, I made breakfasts, I took naps wrapped in a blanket on my couch, and I caught up on my favorite TV shows: Mind of a Chef, A Chef’s Life, Chef’s Table, and The Crown (the last one doesn’t fit the profile, I know!)
While reading the Nordic Cook Book by Magnus Nilsson, who I think is nothing but fascinating; it drew my attention when he wrote that people add too many ingredients to soups, driving away the flavor of the main vegetable which should be the flavor profile on that soup. With that in mind and few pounds of tomatoes we got from the grocery store this weekend, I decided to try adding as little ingredients as possible to make a tomato soup. My preferred method of softening the vegetables was roasting them, as I think the flavor concentrates and the natural sugars caramelize in the process. This soup has very little liquid and I will want to make it again during tomato season when I think the tomatoes will be richer and sweeter.
In the meantime, this was a great choice to warm up in a winter night. I served it with grilled cheese sandwich. The lemony and anise flavor of the fennel really comes through first and then the tomato flavor adds a nice smooth sweet taste at the end of each scoop.
2.5 lb. fresh ripe tomatoes
1 fennel bulb
2 green onions
Small slice of poblano pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
Mexican Crema (optional)*
Preheat the oven to 400º – Cut the tomatoes in half and place cut side down on a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Remove the fennel tops, save some fronds for garnish. Cut the fennel in half, remove the core and cut in half again. Place the fennel, green onions, and pepper in the baking sheet. Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, remove the green onion and pepper, return the baking sheet to the oven and continue roasting for another 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.
In a food processor or blender, add the roasted vegetables and their juices from the roasting pan. Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, fish sauce (optional), and tomato paste. Mix on high for 5 minutes. If the mixture is too thick add 1/4 cup or so of water. Mix again for 2 minutes. Pass the soup through a sieve and transfer to a medium pan. Cook over low heat, add heavy cream and bring to a low simmer. Add salt to taste, cook for 5 minutes or until warm through. Serve immediately. Garnish with fennel fronds and Mexican crema. Serve with your favorite grilled cheese. Enjoy!
*Mexican crema can be found in the Latin aisle of the grocery store, or at Latin stores. I keep a jar of Mexican Crema or Crema Salvadoreña in my fridge. They are both like a smoother and more liquid version of sour cream. In Venezuela, we call it Nata, it sounds like every country have their version depending on the region. I love this stuff!