WRITTEN ON September 29th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Appetizer, Cheese, Dinner, No really, what IS for lunch?, Soups, Tomatoes

At the Greenmarkets yesterday, there was a sign that said ” last day for peaches,” and that’s when it hit me.  Summer is over.  For real.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love fall.  I was born in the fall.  Halloween is in the fall, Libra is my favorite sign, I love Sunday football, and Thanksgiving is to eaters as Chanel is to Rachel Zoe.  The ultimate. Still, there’s always something bittersweet about the true end of summer.  Mostly, I think, because of the long forgotten knowledge that winter tomatoes suck.  And lets be honest, canned peaches are for kids.  So this week’s posts will make full use of the glorious summer produce that’s quickly fading from view.  It’ll be a shift from using these fruits and veggies in their natural, fresh state to preparing them in a seasonally appropriate way.  This tomato soup, for example.  The tomatoes are first quickly roasted under the broiler, which gives them a boost of caramelized, intensified flavor. The cheesy croutons (you can use whatever cheese you like) turn it into a grown up version of grilled cheese and tomato soup, comforting and perfect for the almost chilly nights of late September. This transitional period is a great time to slowly work your way into fall and winter’s long simmered, rich and hearty foods.

Soup you'll fall for

Soup you'll fall for

Roasted Tomato Soup with a Cheesy Basil Crouton (serves 2)
6-8 plum tomatoes (also called Roma tomatoes)
1 small carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
½ an onion, diced
2 springs thyme
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns
2 tsp salt
1 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp half and half
Preheat your broiler.  Fill a large saucepan ¾ with water.  Bring to a boil.  On the end of each tomato (opposite of the stem end), make a small X with a paring knife.  Drop tomatoes into boiling water for no more than 30 seconds.  Remove, discard water.  Peel skins from tomatoes.  Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise, arrange on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Roast under broiler about 10 minutes until edges are slightly blackened.  While tomatoes are roasting, melt butter in the same large saucepan you used to blanch the tomatoes.  Add onion, carrot and celery, sauté until lightly colored and soft.  Tie thyme, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns together in cheesecloth, add to pot..  Remove the tomatoes from the oven, add to pot.  Add broth and salt.  Bring to  boil, boil 5 minutes.  Turn down to a simmer and cook for another 20 minutes.  In a small saucepan, heat half and half.  When soup has finished simmering, remove cheesecloth pouch (called bouquet garni) and puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth.  Stir in half and half.  Serve in small bowls with a cheesy crouton.

For Crouton:
4 baguette slices
4 tbsp grated cheese
5 basil leaves, roughly chopped, torn, or chiffonade
Sprinkle 1 tbsp cheese on top of each bread slice, melt in toaster.  Float on top of soup with a sprinkling of the fresh basil.

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