It’s been so unbelievably perfect in New York City through these first weeks of fall, and especially at night. It’s this inner warmth I get around this time of the year, where my thoughts of nostalgic moments and memories from years passed collide with a genesis of fresh inspiration. All I want to do is cook! And take in all the beauty that this season will bring.
Right now there is this gorgeous and very nostalgic crisp air that reminds me of the winters I am familiar with in southern California. It’s an air that can bring me immediately back to that exciting feeling of knowing the best holidays are about to roll in, where family and friends are gathering, where cooking and eating are ultimate plans, and when many drinks are being shared. If I feel this beautiful and inspiring crisp air for even a second, something comes over me and the season has begun! The season where nights are cozy and warm and where there’s lots of family, friends, and good food in close proximity. I’m even more motivated for a few chilled evening runs along the canyons and beaches near by. It’s all in the air for me, and at night, it’s a very special thing.
A very easy way for me to feel at home is sharing a cup of soup with someone. My mom and I, and occasionally some good friends, will go into the Nordstroms Cafe for a cup of their tomato basil soup. It’s served with a parmesan crostini and a chiffonade of fresh basil. It’s simple and outstanding. More like, just notoriously good tomato soup with a strong “mall girl” cult following. It has become a staple trending with us for a decade now. Not really so in the last four years since living in NY, but when I’m visiting, we go. It’s just nice to sit down and enjoy a perfect cup of soup, especially when you’ve already had too many cups of the other cup related obsession most of us are guilty of, coffee.
With tomato soup, it wins every time. It’s comforting, reliable, and it’s just a classically delicious flavor that is easy on the palette. Pair it with the obvious, a grilled cheese, and the day has been elevated.
I’m a consumer of fruit and cheese together, always delicious, so it’s perfect in this. A luscious and easy melting cheese is the direction you want to go, Fontina and Taleggio work super well with this. I used a young Fontina cheese which is typically softer than an aged Fontina, so it melted really nicely. It also carries a beautifully mild and creamy flavor that went well with the jam. It was fun dipping these sandwiches into the soup, the contrasts of textures and the sweetness from the blueberry ginger jam made all the flavors really come together in an interesting way. So good!
A cup of tomato basil soup can turn days around. And it’s all in the simplicity. Roasted tomatoes.
There is nothing better than a few tomatoes halved, heavily sprinkled with kosher salt, doused with drippings of good olive oil, and a few sprigs of thyme placed on a sheet tray and into the oven to melt into a sweetened, acidic, aromatic slush, of intense tomato flavor. They’re a dream.
I think they speak for themselves. Their beauty, depth of flavor, and versatility is unlike any item in comparison. Simplicity is the key with a hot soup.
And in they go, into a pot over the stove to share their goodness with a few other ingredients.
A very simple and classic roasted tomato basil soup.
So, how about this? Tomatoes are the best. And fall will always be the best time of year. Opinion, opinion!
I do have them don’t I? :) Those two opinions are clearly the only reason why I’m sitting here right now exploding with my affection, so I might as well just say it as straight forward as I can. And that is what brings me here happily cooking, styling, learning, and enjoying food.
There is so much that this season brings, I am just at my happiest during these months. So much so, that I’m planning for a wedding to take place about a year from now, fall of 2012, D. and I will be getting married!! There is going to be a lot ahead of us in the new year, but we are very happy to officially begin with some big and exciting plans.
For now, I am going to continue in cooking and eating with the season to set up my days for this very busy and gorgeous time of year. Hope everyone is enjoying the month so far!
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Recipe adapted and altered from Ina Garten
3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, (I used both beefsteak and golden 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
3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water
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, saute 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 use a hand stick immersion blender into the pot. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.