After a summer full of sweet local tomatoes, the winter months can look bleak. But canned tomatoes are a sunny opportunity to enjoy that robust tomato flavor year-round. It turns out those cans can be coaxed into something pretty close to summer's bounty — all they need is a little TLC.
Turn on your oven, toss those canned tomatoes in, and roast them until they're caramelized and sweet, and you've got the base for a killer tomato soup that will warm you up all fall and winter long.
Roast for the Most
Tomato soup is one of the first things I crave once the cool weather starts sinking into my bones, which, as luck would have it, always tends to hit just about a week or two after the last sweet tomato leaves my local farmers market. While a can of whole tomatoes tossed in a pot, simmered with aromatics, and blended can satisfy, I always find it lacks rich flavor. Luckily, there's a solution that makes a better fall and winter tomato soup possible: roasting the tomatoes.
Remove the whole tomatoes, lay them out on a rimmed baking sheet, toss garlic cloves and fresh herbs on top for good measure, drizzle everything with olive oil, and roast until the mess is caramelized and the tomatoes are jammy. This little trick concentrates whatever sweetness is hiding inside these preserved tomatoes, bringing them as close to summer's bounty as you can get without traveling back in time. Simmer them in a pot with the usual soup suspects, blend, and serve alongside a crispy-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside grilled cheese.
Roasted Tomato Soup
Serves 6 to 8
(28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes (do not drain)
fresh thyme sprigs
olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
large yellow onion, diced
(32 ounces) low-sodium vegetable broth
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the whole tomatoes from the cans (reserving the juice), cut them in half if large, and lay them out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Scatter the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs over the tomatoes and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if using. Roast until soft and caramelized, 30 to 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sauté until the paste has deepened in color, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
When the tomatoes are ready, discard the thyme sprigs. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic cloves to the pot, then add the reserved tomato juice in the cans and the vegetable broth. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover the pot, and simmer 20 minutes.
Purée the soup in batches in a stand blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.