This recipe came about in one of those odd moments. I had tomato soup simmering on the stove, and was preparing guacamole to serve with crusty bread as a side.
I was just standing there — in a bit of a fog from a particularly surreal day — looking blankly from the creamy red goodness of the soup pot, to the speckled green goodness of the guacamole bowl, when some inexplicable impulse led me to scoop a huge spoonful of guac into the soup, before I could stop myself or even ponder the consequences. (Such as, red and green make brown, ew — a thought that didn’t occur to me until the second attempt.)
I stirred and tasted. No consequences, just deliciousness. And brightness. A summer-like brightness. I was instantly cheered, both at the unexpected success, and the perky flavors that now awaited dinner.
This is summer’s tomato soup, but with all the warm comfort you need smack-dab in the middle of winter. (And not even a hint of brown.)
Further experimentation in later days led to the addition of roasted tomatoes instead of plain, and homemade, super easy tortilla strips for an extra savory-salty crunch (recipe for the strips to come soon; store bought is perfectly acceptable).
Roasting tomatoes brings out their naturally sweet tomatoeyness. Even canned tomatoes benefit.
Winter tomato tip: if you must buy fresh tomatoes, go for the cherry or grape tomatoes, as they’ll have the better flavor and texture. (Canned is always the best bet, though). If your farmers’ markets are still open, check with the growers that set up there. Many have incorporated high-tunnels into their crop planning, which means they can successfully grow tasty summer crops — like those above — well past the end of the normal season.
Roasted Tomato and Guacamole Soup
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook time:50 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 1/2 pounds cherry (or small) tomatoes (or canned or boxed whole tomatoes – 24 to 28 ounces, drained, juices reserved)
salt and pepper
1/2 small red onion, diced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon lime juice (about one lime)
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 slices bacon
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 cups chicken stock
sour cream, for garnish
tortilla strips, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the skins are split and tomatoes are shriveled (a little browning is not a bad thing). Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.
3. While the tomatoes roast, make the guacamole. Halve the avocados and remove the pits. Squeeze into a medium mixing bowl and mash with several pinches of salt until fairly smooth. Add small, equal amounts of lime and lemon juice, mashing into the avocado. Taste, and add more juice to your liking. Taste again for salt. Add the red onions and jalapeno pepper, mixing well. Finally, stir in the cilantro. Set aside.
4. Heat a swirl of olive in a 5 qt dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Fry the bacon until crispy and remove to a paper towel lined plate. Add the onions and celery to the rendered bacon fat and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and any juices. Stir well with onion mixture, the back of the spoon to break down the tomatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes more. Chop the bacon and add to the soup.
5. Add the guacamole, one heaping tablespoon at a time, to the soup, stirring well to incorporate after each addition. Taste the soup after the 5th tablespoon. You should be able to detect a nice hint of the guacamole without it being overpowering. Add more, if desired.
6. Use an immersion blender to process the soup to an almost-smooth texture. (Or, use a regular blender, in batches, and return to pot.) Here, the goal is to break down the tomato skins. Do one final tasting to adjust for salt and pepper.
7. To serve, ladle into bowls. Add a dollop of sour cream and top with another spoonful of guacamole. Sprinkle tortilla strips over soup’s surface.