Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

After this decadent chocolate tart, this buttery pound cake, and these addictive prosciutto palmiers, I am giving all of your waistlines a bit of a break – new year, new you, right?! – with  a lighter and healthier recipe. Now wait! Don’t stop reading just yet – if the words “lighter and healthier” make you run in the other direction, I understand. After all, those two words are often associated with other words, like “bland,”  or “boring,” conjuring up images of steamed vegetables and plain chicken breast. I do think it is possible to eat well and nutritiously without cutting out the flavor – healthy eating doesn't mean just eating salad! – and this Roasted Tomato Basil Soup is most certainly proof of that. In fact, it is one of my all-time favorite recipes, one that I often request my mom make for me when I come off the airplane after a long flight from Rome and am in need of some comfort food. Unlike the many lighter dishes, this soup is packed with flavor, thanks to slow roasted tomatoes (this transforms less than perfect Winter tomatoes into something amazing,) a good dose of basil, garlic, and lots of simmering on the stove. It is filling and satisfying, not to mention cozy and perfect for cold Winter days. It is even better the day after, and is also a good with a little freshly grated Parmesan on top. In short, it is everything a bowl of lettuce is not, and I hope you forgive me for sharing it with you only now after trying it. Enjoy everyone! 


3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade, or blend with a food processor in batches (be careful when dealing with hot liquids!) Taste for seasonings. Serve hot garnished with a little basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6-8.

Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. 

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