In the Martin & Sylvia’s Nature School story “Winter Wonder,” Martin notices while at Goose-eye Wilderness Camp that his friend Sam is feeling tired of winter and missing her home in Arizona. He hesitates to tell her that there are still several weeks of winter left, but luckily Helmut, the apprentice from Germany, knows exactly how to show Sam the way to appreciate the gifts of winter.
As I'm writing this, it is four degrees outside. Snow and ice are making it difficult to get out of the house, and the next few weeks are predicted to be more of the same.
But dwelling on all of that won't change it, so instead I'm going to tell you about one of my favorite things in winter: tomato soup.
This roasted tomato basil soup is the coziest thing for a cold day.
Because it's winter, I use canned tomatoes instead of fresh, but throwing them into a warm oven to roast for a few hours gives them a July kind of sweetness. If the idea of spending time by a warm oven doesn't win you over, I promise that the cheerful smell of roasting tomatoes perfuming your house will.
And if you don't have time to roast the tomatoes before dinner, never fear. They'll keep nicely in the fridge for two or three days, so feel free to roast them on the weekend and stash them back for a quick weeknight meal.
Serve this soup with a stack of grilled cheese sandwiches and you'll be all set to sing winter's praises.
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
About 10 thyme sprigs
46 ounces bottled tomato juice
2 tablespoons basil paste (or about 15 basil leaves)
½ cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pour the olive oil into a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish, and use your clean hands to spread it over the bottom.
Next, open the cans of tomatoes. Reserving all of the tomato juice, give each tomato a gentle squeeze to expel much juice as possible. Lay the wrung-out tomatoes in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
When the tomatoes are ready, pour the bottled tomato juice and any reserved juice from the tomato cans into a large stock pot. Add the roasted tomatoes, garlic, and thyme to the pot, as well as the basil paste. (Again, I use basil paste because fresh basil is not in season where I am. But if you can get good fresh basil, feel free to sub it in.) Bring the pot to a gentle boil.
Once the soup is bubbling, remove it from the heat. Use an immersion blender to break up the tomatoes, then blend in the cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Now, ladle the soup into generous bowls, and enjoy this lovely bit of warmth in winter.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.