Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup with Melting Bocconcini

Okay, okay, maybe I’m rushing the season just a bit………
but we had a lovely break in the weather today. Instead of sweltering temperatures in the upper nineties, the day was clear and beautiful with the highs in the mid eighties and a dip into the low sixties tonight! Hip, hip hooray! It got me excited about pulling out the sweaters and blankets and ……………..MAKING SOUP!

I saw this wonderful looking recipe in my new Delicious magazine (a wonderful British culinary journal) and I couldn’t wait to try it. I have several tomato-basil soup recipes, but I’m always searching for the “creme de la creme” – and guess what? I think I found it! Not only is this soup incredibly delicious with the perfect tomato/basil balance, but it’s chocked full of all kinds of healthy, fresh veggies – carrots, shallots, celery and onions! The Bocconcini (just a fancy name for tiny balls of fresh mozzarella) floating on the top not only looks gorgeous, but it’s fun, unique and well……………just a fabulous twist on this classic soup.

I made a few adaptations to the Delicious recipe. I roasted the tomatoes at a higher temp for just a bit longer to caramelize them and produce a more intense flavor. I also roasted the other veggies in a separate pan instead of sautéing them as the recipe directs – again to caramelize them, adding extra layers of deliciousness. I cut back on the butter and added a bit of olive oil instead. Lastly, I wanted more basil flavor so I added quite a bit of this lovely fresh herb after the final simmer.

Even if you haven’t had a break in the weather, you might want to try this delicious soup to get you in the mood for the coming season! It ‘s also a great way to use up the last of those wonderful summer tomatoes. Oh, and check back tomorrow for another fun recipe – Fresh Corn and Basil Cornbread with Fig Butter – it’s a wonderful partner for the tomato soup that you won’t want to miss!

Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup with Melting Bocconcini

1 ½ pounds Roma or plum tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium carrots , sliced in 1/2 inch slices
2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
2 stalk celery (chopped), coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
17 ounce fire-roasted canned tomatoes puréed, can
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large bay leaf
1 basil sprig
6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock or broth
1/2 cup fresh packed basil
12 baby bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)

1. Pre-heat oven to 400˚F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Place Roma tomatoes, cut side up, on one pan. Sprinkle with sugar, drizzle with oil and season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn the tomatoes cut side down. Roast for 20-25 minutes until softened and beginning to caramelize. Flip the tomatoes over and continue to roast another 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a bit. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, pull off the skins and discard.

2. While tomatoes are roasting, place butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 second. Place carrots, onions, celery and shallots on the other parchment paper lined sheet pan. Drizzle butter/oil over veggies and stir to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

3. Combine canned tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, basil, stock, roasted tomatoes and veggies along with any cooking juices in a large pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-35 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Discard basil sprig & bay leaf, cool slightly and add the 1/2 cup of fresh basil. Blend the soup in batches until very smooth. (I use a stick blender which worked wonderful.) Adjust seasoning, to taste.

4. Place the bocconcini on a baking try lined with baking paper and bake for 2 – 3 minutes until just warm and lightly melted (do not overcook or the cheese will melt completely). Ladle the soup into serving bowls and scoop molten bocconcini into each one. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve and enjoy!

Adapted from Delicious magazine



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