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Roasted tomato soup with crunchy parmesan crisps
So we didn’t win Powerball. Before the winning tickets were purchased by some other lucky soul, wasn’t it fun to muse about how life would change with hundreds of millions of dollars? The houses we would buy, trips we would take, lives we could better? I was chatting with a couple girlfriends the other day about spending our imaginary winnings and we came up with some pretty stellar ideas.
Mine takes me to my happy place smack in the middle of California wine country, a vision of rolling hills, quaint towns and picturesque wineries tucked into rows and rows of grapevines. On my perfect day I envision a long table laden with cheeses, charcuterie and fresh baguettes set under a vine covered trellis where I gather my nearest and dearest to relax after a day of wine tasting. There would be music playing, wine flowing and friends laughing.
Our house would sit atop a nearby hill overlooking our vineyard and gardens, the doors flung open to allow the breeze to float through. The garden would be teeming with beautiful vegetables, ready for picking: cherry red tomatoes at their peak just waiting to be plucked from the vines and purple flowering rosemary bushes would fill the air with their unmistakable scent. I would cook simple, rustic meals from my garden and the local farms.
I would become an expert at canning. I would make cheese. I would raise chickens. I would drink wine with breakfast.
My boys would be browned from swimming in the sun, their fingers stained purple from picking grapes from the vine. I wouldn’t hire someone to do the cooking, but maybe someone to do the dishes. Steve would man the bar at the local watering hole just for fun. We would throw away all of our clocks. We would travel.
We would throw lavish Gatsby-style outdoor parties where our favorite bands would clamor to play. Our multiple guest houses would see a steady rotation of friends and family. Someone else would fold the laundry.
It’s fun to daydream about being the big winner and not surprisingly, my dreams include food, family and friends. The truth is, in many ways I’ve already won the lottery. I may not own a winery, but I’m fortunate enough to do what I love and share good times and good food with my favorite people.
Today I’d like to share a recipe for tomato soup that reminds me of the simple, rustic fare we’ve enjoyed on our trips to wine country. It’s a little cold in the northeast for those vine-ripened tomatoes from the garden of my dreams, so instead I’ve roasted grape tomatoes in the oven with some fresh thyme until they are soft and caramelized. The tomatoes are blended with garlic, shallots and chicken stock and I’ve garnished the soup with crunchy parmesan crisps that are deceptively easy to make. We won’t be sitting under a trellis in the middle of a vineyard when we dig our spoons in, but sitting in front of the crackling fire is a pretty close second. And all those useless Powerball tickets should make for some pretty good kindling.
- Roasted Tomatoes
- 4 pints grape tomatoes
- 10 sprigs of thyme
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 large shallots 6 oz, finely chopped
- 1 tsp thyme chopped
- 1 quart chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- Parmesan Crisps
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan
Roasted Tomatoes: Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place tomatoes on a parchment or nonstick foil lined sheet pan and toss with olive oil, thyme sprigs, sugar, salt and pepper.
Roast for 15-20 minutes or until softened and just beginning to brown.
Soup: Heat a large pot or dutch oven over med/high heat and add olive oil.
Add shallots and garlic and cook until softened and golden, about 5 minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs and add the roasted tomatoes and their juices, the chopped thyme, chicken stock, salt and pepper to the pot.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and allow to cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and puree until smooth with an immersion blender or in a blender.
Parmesan crisps: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a sheet tray with parchment or a silpat (silicone baking liner) and drop leveled tablespoons of parmesan on to the lined pan.
Pat down each spoon of parmesan and spread slightly.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake until parmesan crisps are golden, about 6-8 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool on the pan slightly before removing them to cool on racks.
To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with two parmesan crisps.