Hands up if tomato soup takes you back to your childhood! It sure does for me! I remember coming home from school for lunch (yep – we lived that close) and being thrilled to walk in the back door and find grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup on the table! There is something undeniably comforting about that warm bowl of tomato goodness that I’ve never outgrown. What I have outgrown however, is any sort of desire to eat soup from a can! And as it happens – I really like to make soup. In fact, I’d say it’s one of my favorite things to make – and to eat! While I tend to make more soups in the winter, I still enjoy stirring up a pot of soup other times of the year as well!
Fall recently started, and I thought this would be a good time to whip together a Roasted Tomato Bisque with some of those end of season tomatoes I’ve been spying at the last few farmers markets. Unfortunately our city is suffering some devestating near-record flooding and this weekend’s market was cancelled. I feel horrible for everyone affected by this disaster. Personally our home is unaffected, as is my business location, but the pain is felt by everyone, as we all know someone affected by the flooding. On the flip-side, our community has come together once more and worked to build levies, donate emergency supplies to those evacuated from their homes, and prayed – there’s been a lot of praying going on here! Anyway…no market meant improvising by using store bought tomatoes instead of garden fresh, but by roasting them the flavor is naturally enhanced and the soup turned out fantastic!
I cringe a little when I think back to the tomato soup I grew up eating. Sorry Mom! But that gloppy, blobby, yukky, (all technical culinary terms – at least for me 😉) odd colored soup from a can is pretty gross! And of all the junk they add to canned soup, there’s one very important ingredient they forgot…the FLAVOR!!!! Store bought canned soup simply does not compare to the healthfulness and flavor of homemade! Plus making soup is so simple! Pretty much anything goes, so it’s perfect for picky eaters (sneak in those veggies)! It’s perfect for health conscious folks like me because by making my own soup I’m in control of the ingredients, i.e. NO ARTIFICIAL CRAP! Soup is perfect for warming bellies, hands, and hearts on the coldest of days. For all those reasons and more soup is one of my favorite foods…it’s like a hug in a bowl. Or in a mug – yeah – soup is a hug in a mug – that’s my new motto! 😉
So for today’s soup I used Roma tomatoes, an orange and green bell pepper, Vidalia onion, garlic, organic tomato juice, olive oil, salt & pepper, a little basil, and to give it that final creaminess – cashew cream. Its meals like this when I really, really, really, wish I could still eat more than the occasional nibble of cheese, because this soup would be fantastic with a delicious gooey grilled cheese sandwich! I’ll be the first to admit that as delicious as tomato soup is all on its own, something savory and crispy just seems to enhance that wonderful tomato flavor. So since I nixed the sandwich idea, I thought I’d try a savory granola to sprinkle on top. And it is fantabulous! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this a long time ago! I combined oats, sunflower seeds, pepitas, white and black sesame seeds, olive oil, and some seasonings – tossed it all together – and toasted it in the oven for 25 minutes. It’s savory, salty, spicy, crucnchy – just perfect to top off a warm bowl of Roasted Tomato Bisque!
So I started off by making the savory oatmeal crunch with which I garnished the soup. It was super simple – I placed the oats and seeds in a gallon bag, dumped in the seasonings, olive oil, and worcestershire sauce – gave it all a good shake to evenly coat all the ingredients, poured it all in a baking pan and stuck it in the oven for about 25 minutes. I stirred it once halfway through the baking time, removed it when it was done, and set it aside to cool.
While the oatmeal crunch was baking I prepped the tomatoes, onion, peppers, and garlic for roasting. Because this is a blended soup, the vegetables don’t need to be perfectly chopped! I halved the tomatoes, and rough chopped the peppers and onions, then tossed them with some extra virgin olive oil and spread them on a baking sheet. I also sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper.
The roasted garlic is such a delicious component of this recipe. I love – like LOVE – garlic, but sometimes it can overwhelm a dish because of it’s strong pungent flavor. But roasting it…you guys…it’s like garlic candy! Sweet and aromatic, and so much more mellow than unroasted garlic. And it couldn’t be easier to make, especially since we’re already roasting the rest of the veggies. To oven roast garlic, cut the top about 1/4 off an entire bulb. Drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it securely (I use 2 layers) in aluminum foil, and roast it in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Which just happens to be exactly how long the tomatoes, onions, and peppers need to roast to slightly caramelize! 😉
After the vegetables are roasted, pour them into a large stock pot, and set the garlic aside to cool a bit. I use a much larger pot than really necessary simply because I’ll be using an immersion blender and I feel like it’s a bit safer if I’ve got a larger pan – I’m less like to splatter hot liquid all over myself that way! To the pot of roasted vegetables, I add the tomato juice and bring it all to a simmer. While the soup simmers, carefully unwrap the roasted garlic, and when it’s cool enough to handle, gently squeeze from the bottom of the bulb and the roasted cloves will pop right out! Add the garlic to the soup pot, remove the pan from the heat and blend it with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one – and I highly recommend you purchase one if you don’t – the soup can be very carefully transferred in small batches to a regular blender and blended that way. Please just exercise extreme caution if you use this method. Once the soup is blended, return it to low heat, add the basil and cashew cream, and heat thoroughly.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top it with some of the delicious savory oatmeal crunch, serve it along with some bread – or a classic grilled cheese sandwich, and enjoy your amazingly delectable dairy-free, 100% vegan, Roasted Tomato Bisque with Savory Oatmeal Crunch!!! Warm your belly (and the bellies of those you love) ~ and warm your heart at the same time! ❤️
- 2.5 pounds of fresh tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
- 2 bulbs garlic, tops cut off
- 2 medium sweet onions, cut into chunks
- 2 bell peppers, cut into 12-16 large pieces
- 1 container - 46 ounces - organic tomato juice
- Salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tbsp frozen (or fresh if available) chopped basil
- 2 cups cashew cream ~ see the link in post
- 1 cup whole oats
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted pepitas
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp black sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a gallon size food storage bag, combine oats, seeds, seasonings, oil, and sauce.
- Shake to coat completely.
- Pour into a small baking dish and toast in pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through the baking time.
- Remove from oven to cool. Store in covered container.
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss the cut up tomatoes, onions, and peppers with 2 tbsp of olive oil and transfer to a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Prepare garlic for roasting by placing on a square of foil and drizzling with a generous amount of olive oil. Wrap tightly in foil, then add a second layer of foil and wrap that securely as well.
- Place on baking sheet with vegetables, and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until vegetables are starting to caramelize and the garlic yields to pressure when squeezed with an oven mitt.
- Remove pan from oven, set garlic aside to cool, and pour vegetables into a large stock pot, set over medium heat.
- Add tomato juice and bring to a simmer, but not quite boiling.
- Once garlic is cool enough to handle, remove from foil and squeeze bulbs from the bottom to remove roasted cloves and add them to the simmering soup.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it's completely smooth and no pieces remain.
- Return to heat and bring back to a simmer.
- Add basil and cashew cream, stirring well to incorporate.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.
- Serve piping hot with a sprinkle of savory oatmeal crunch.
- Soup may be blended in small batches in a standard blender, but extreme caution must be exercised to avoid being burned!