Weather: 27 degrees, blue skies and frost
What I’m listening to: a small plane overhead and the laundry tossing in the dryer
Last spring, I was poring over the cookbook section of the Anchorage Barnes and Noble, when a particular cookbook caught my eye. Jennifer Perillo’s Homemade with Love practically jumped off the shelf into my arms – its photography, its food, its writing, and its attention to design detail all speaking to me in ways that many cookbooks do not. I was swooning, completely smitten with this book.
KITCHEN TIP: Oven-Roasted Canned Tomatoes
This soup is one of the first recipes I tried and it was a revelation to me in a couple of ways. First, roasting canned tomatoes. What? Really? Have I been living under a rock? Apparently. I had always avoided roasted tomato… well… anything… because although Alaska is known for a lot of things, an abundance of fresh, plump tomatoes is decidedly not one of them. Problem solved. I am no longer excluded from the roasted tomato party, and neither are the rest of you when tomatoes are out of season. Buy a nice big can of good quality whole tomatoes, drain them well, slice them in half, and roast them in a 300 degree oven with olive oil and seasonings of your choice for about an hour.
Now let’s talk about the seasonings for a moment. The way Jennifer Perillo seasoned her tomatoes for the soup in this recipe was revelation number two. Salt and pepper, a little brown sugar (I have been a huge fan of brown sugar with tomatoes for many years), and ground cloves? Say what now? No. Way. But, as I considered this list of ingredients in my mind, trying to taste it in my imagination, I knew deep down that it was going to work and that it was going to be brilliant. So, I salted, peppered, sugared, and cloved my tomatoes, and drizzled them all with extra virgin olive oil and roasted those babies until my house smelled like warmly spiced tomato heaven. The cloves elevate this tomato soup into the perfect fall-into-winter bowl of coziness, with an unexpected heat right at the finish. Perfect, truly perfect. And extremely simple, too. Just roast, blend, and heat through.
I served this soup with some lovely grilled cheese sandwiches, recipe coming later this week.