Thursday, March 10, 2011

Roasted tomato soup

Last December, when I was in Amsterdam (in fact, when I was stuck in Amsterdam because of snow – that is the last time I try flying through Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Budapest three days before Christmas) I had the most amazing tomato soup at a small American-run restaurant near Leidseplein. It was thick and dark, nearly chunky as if a fresh salsa had been heated and scooped in – and it was comforting and tasted heavenly. I've been meaning to try re-creating it ever since, but only just got around to it.

The basic ingredients are three: tomatoes, onions and garlic. The key is to roast them at a high temperature for a fairly long time, to bring out the flavors and just begin caramelization. And then – homemade vegetable stock, some croutons, and voilà: a thick, flavorful and hearty tomato soup. It's not quite as good as the one in Amsterdam, but I'll work on it.

What you need:
  • homemade vegetable stock (3-4 cups, depending on how thick you want your soup)
  • a whole bunch of ripe tomatoes… about 3 pounds
  • 2-3 large onions
  • 4-6 large garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil

What you do:
  • Begin by quartering the tomatoes, peeling and quartering the onions, and peeling garlic cloves. While you're at it, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
  • On a large cookie sheet, gently toss the tomatoes, onions and garlic in olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30-45 min., until they are just starting to caramelize. Stir every once in a while to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the cookie sheet; an initial liberal application of olive oil will also work.
  • Whilst the vegetables are roasting, bring your stock to a near boil.
  • Combine the roasted vegetables and stock in a large pot and slowly bring to the boil. Set to a simmer, stir in the Parmesan cheese, and let simmer for 20 min. to build the flavors.
  • Blend the soup until largely smooth.
  • Serve with olive oil croutons: simply cube and old baguette (I used whole wheat), toss with olive oil, and pop in a 120°C oven for about 15 min.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Asparagus season shouldn't open until the spring, but Aarhus greengrocers have been flooded with it recently – much to my satisfaction. Cooking for two last week was wonderful. We had asparagus with melon and prsut, with carpaccio and eggs, with serrano and Parmesan. And in this brilliant salad, tossed gently with lamb's ear, dates and walnuts, and served alongside openface rye, smoked salmon and red onion sandwiches.

In the salad, the asparagus are simply lightly sautéed in olive oil, just long enough to bring out their colour. The lamb's ear is tossed on its own with a sprinkling of olive oil and balsamic, and the salad is rounded out with quartered medjool dates and walnuts. We dry-toasted the walnuts to build their flavour and get them warm. The salad is perfectly balanced on the winter-spring boundary, with rich colours and textures of the winter but also the promise of asparagus season and the spring to come.

No recipe needed. It's as simple and good as it sounds.