Monday, September 20, 2010

Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Basil Soup with Orzo

What is an heirloom tomato, you might ask?
Well, by definition, an heirloom tomato is a variety of tomato that has been passed down through several generations of a family because of its valued characteristics. It is usually a variety that was introduced before 1940 or has been in circulation for more than 50 years. New heirlooms are also created by cross-pollinating two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid to produce new seeds.

In recent years, heirloom tomatoes have become more readily available commercially. I recently acquired a few heirlooms from a local farm and decided to make some delicious tomato soup. Heirlooms are easily recognizable by their bigger size and also colorful characteristics (a mix of yellow, orange, pink and green). In this dish, I started by roasting 5 lbs of the tomatoes together with shallots, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper as shown below:
Heat the oven up to 350F and roast the tomatoes for approximately 45 minutes or until they are cooked like below:
Put all the contents from the roasting pan into a food processor, together with fresh basil leaves. Then run the processed liquid through a chinois stainless steel sieve to remove all the tomato pulp and skin. Take the filtered liquid, transfer it to a pot and add 1 quart of chicken broth/stock and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar (4 tablespoons), bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. And voila! There's your tomato and basil soup. I like to serve this dish with some orzo pasta and meatballs.

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