When I was a child my favorite school lunch was when they served grilled cheese and tomato soup. Dunking that horribly greasy cheese sandwich in reconstituted soup, well what can I say, I was a child and I loved it. I hadn’t had that meal in years but recently I was at a friend’s home and that’s just what she served, American cheese on white bread grilled in oil (yuk). So if the sandwich wasn’t bad enough, the tinned tomato soup…well that was just horrid!! Have they changed the recipe over the years or have my tastes just changed that much? Amazingly after that “interesting” lunch I actually ached for a decent grilled cheese and a more grown-up tomato soup so I experimented in the kitchen and came up with this rich, creamy, healthy and totally wonderful recipe.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered
large pinch of salt
12 grinds of black pepper
3 large heads of garlic, cut in half to expose the cloves
fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
10 grinds of black pepper
Two 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
8 cups chicken broth
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (I use fat-free)
12 basil leaves minced
9 - 12 ounces fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
Pre-heat oven to 450F. In a large bowl lightly toss together the quartered tomatoes, 3 TBS olive oil, salt & pepper. Pour out onto a foil lined baking pan and roast 25-30 minutes until tomatoes are soft and have started to caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside.
Place halved heads of garlic on a large sheet of foil with cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Seal up the foil and roast in the oven with the tomatoes until the garlic is soft. Set aside and allow to cool so that it can be handled.
In a large pot heat 2 TBS. olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until caramelized. Add thyme, black pepper and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Add the diced tomatoes with all the liquid, simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and roasted tomatoes to the soup. Squeeze the garlic from it's paper, discard the paper and add the soft garlic to the soup. Simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender or by small batches in a blender, blend until smooth. Stir in the evaporated milk and bring soup to a simmer. Add the fresh basil and spinach and allow the spinach to wilt in the soup before serving.
I topped the soup with some homemade garlic croutons, Yummy!!