As part of my new, diligent effort to actually finish this stupid project, I completed two more recipes last night. Well, it’s really one recipe, served two different ways, so thankfully for Gwyneth and I, it still counts toward the total. Yesterday was a gloomy, drizzly, miserable day in Portland that — coupled with saying goodbye to Ali the night before — left me in a malaise. Some comforting soup would be perfect, I thought, turning the page to Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup: Two Ways, and smiling appreciatively at the “1 hour” total preparation time. Easy, delicious, and something I can serve grilled cheese alongside. Isn’t that the kind of dinner everyone is searching for? And then I noticed the main ingredient was Gwyneth’s slow-roasted tomatoes (previously completed for Chicken Milanese), which take FOUR TO FIVE HOURS TO MAKE. God damnit, lady, you’ve screwed me again.
The one good aspect to five-hour soup is that it excuses you from your plans to go to the gym after work. (As a Jew, I should note that I am extremely embarrassed by the amount of doucheness in that previous sentence.) So I raced to the grocery store after work and scrambled to gather my ingredients with one eye on the clock, knowing every second wasted was another second I’d have to stay up past my bedtime, simply to make tomato soup.
Before we get to the cooking, though, I’d like to call attention to Gwyneth’s introduction to this recipe, which is probably her loopiest introduction yet. It’s full of ellipses and references to Campbell of Campbell’s soup (“whoever he was….”), and at one point rambles off into a discussion on how, exactly, her parents served Campbell’s soup when she was a kid, correcting course with a, “….anyway, I boringly digress….” It’s insane, which is the perfect introduction for a soup that takes five hours to make.
So I cut my (vine-ripened) tomatoes in half horizontally, rubbed them with olive oil, sprinkled a little salt on them, and threw the pan in the oven for three to five hours. Which meant I had time to do all sorts of things around the house, which was kind of nice, I guess. And, since I was technically cooking, I had an excuse to drink wine the whole time, too! Maybe Gwyneth is onto something here.
Pre-roasting. Nothing too exciting here.
During roasting. Something VERY exciting here.
Three to five hours later, the tomatoes were beginning to dry and shrivel and smell pretty damn roasted, so I could finally start on the actual soup. Which, by the way, is absurdly easy. Heat some olive oil and garlic for a few minutes. Add a big can of peeled whole tomatoes, some water, and fresh basil. Simmer for 40 minutes. Chop up your slow-roasted tomatoes, add to the pot, along with salt and pepper. AND THAT IS TOMATO SOUP. On the one hand, I love when recipes are this basic, especially when I’m cooking at 10 PM on a Monday night. On the other hand, if I’m cooking until midnight, I feel like it should be worth it, you know? Granted, this recipe would have been done by 7:00 if I had an ever-present supply of home-roasted tomatoes saved in my fridge, like Gwyneth claims to have, but that concept is just too absurd to even consider. What sane person slow-roasts a batch of tomatoes once a week?
So, anyway, as the soup simmered on the stove, I sauteed some onions and prepared two basic grilled cheese sandwiches with onions to dip in the soup, because grilled cheese is an absolute necessity with tomato soup. I also split the soup in half to prepare it both ways: the first way is simply to leave the soup chunky and serve with extra basil leaves and a small drizzle of olive oil, while the second is to puree in a blender (or Magic Bullet, as it were) with some milk as an “homage to Campbell, whoever he was….”
Un-blended soup. The presentation is disgusting because I had already wolfed some of it down before I realized I hadn’t taken a picture. Whoops.
The “Campbell’s” version.
And both were actually delicious! Sure, I may have been half-drunk from drinking wine for hours on an empty stomach, and of course everything tastes better when you’re STARVING TO DEATH, but the soups were honestly very, very tasty. As much as I ridicule the idea of slow-roasting tomatoes once a week just to constantly have them on hand in case you need some, I secretly wish I had the time to do that, because those little things are fantastic. They’re so sweet and delicious and they really took both soups up to an awesome level. The first variety of soup was good, but slightly difficult to dip grilled cheese in, as it was filled with large chunks of tomato. The second, blended soup was perfect for dipping, and I think I preferred it overall. But, honestly, both were great. And even though I was eating dinner at midnight, there really is nothing better than curling up on a rainy, blustery night with some wine, your dog, HBO, grilled cheese, and a big bowl of homemade tomato soup. It’s just too bad I was so exhausted after completing a “simple” recipe that I almost slept through catching my train this morning. So don’t make this one if you have to get your kids to school in the morning (without the aid of a chauffeur), because you’ll sleep until noon.