Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter Tomato Soup

I don’t need Punxsutawney Phil to tell me that winter will be sticking around for a while. But, since there’s not much I can do about it, I just warm up with a bowl of hot soup.

I suppose one could say that this soup if full of Spanish flavors, but I’ve never been to Spain and I don’t know any Spanish people, so I wouldn’t dare describe it as “authentic Spanish cuisine.” I did put smoked paprika in it, which had the word “Spanish” on the label, so that must count for something. Smoked paprika may be difficult to find, but I got mine from a Penzeys Spices store, and it is available on their web site.

I did base this soup on an idea I had for a smoky-flavored Gazpacho (which may also support its Spanish-ness), but the weather is cold and so is Gazpacho, so I made a comforting hot soup instead. More brands seem to be canning fire-roasted tomatoes these days, so they may be easier to find than they used to be. (I usually use Muir Glen brand, which is always good.) You could use roasted red bell peppers from a jar for this soup, or you could roast your own as described in this post. I used homemade vegetable broth, but I think you could use your favorite vegetable or chicken broth.

Just a few words about salt: First of all, I tend to like my soup salty. I used unsalted tomatoes, fresh peppers that I roasted, and unsalted broth to make this soup, so I ended up putting in about 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons. (I’m not sure, since I added more at one point when I was unsure if I had added some already. Don’t do this.) I use kosher salt, which has a more coarse grain than regular iodized salt.

I’ve found that it’s best to add some salt with the sautéing vegetables, to help them sweat a bit, then add more salt only to taste. Look at the sodium content of your ingredients, then decide how much salt to start with, then, when the soup has boiled down, taste it. If it needs more salt, put some more in. If it’s too salty, you may be out of luck. I don’t know that any of the old home remedies for over-salted soup really work.

Upon the first test, this soup turned out as well as I had hoped. It is thick, but soft, a little tangy and acidic, and just a bit spicy. You could probably spice it up even more by adding more hot pepper flakes, or even a minced chipotle chile, which would bump up the smokiness as well. You might also make it even heartier if you added a drained and rinsed can of chickpeas near the end of cooking, or diced up some Spanish chorizo sausage and sautéed it with the onion and celery

Mmmmmm! That all sounds so good, I might just have to go out and buy a few more cans of fire-roasted tomatoes! I wish I knew more Spanish, so I could give a proper send-off!

Tomato and Roasted Pepper Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt (plus more to taste)
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 (14.5 ounce or 411 g) cans fire roasted tomatoes, do not drain
2 roasted red bell peppers
3 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions appear translucent and begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, smoked paprika and cumin. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the fire roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers and broth.

3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, until the celery is tender and the soup has thickened, about 45 minutes. Taste the soup and add more salt to taste if necessary.

Makes about 6 servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment