What's For Lunch: Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup

It has been brutally cold up here in the North. (Well, all over the country, really.) Though last winter lasted into April, I don't recall such cold temperatures for such a long period of time. We haven't even had the chance to get in a good cross-country ski yet this season! It has also been too cold to walk Leroy, so he's been on a quick in-and-out schedule in the mornings and evenings, though we have bundled up (I in 12 layers; Leroy in his snow boots) to brave the elements this week to retrieve the mail from our mail box (which is slightly more challenging than it sounds, given we have quite a long driveway and our mailbox is across the street).

So, yes, it's cold. And the best way that I know how to warm up -- at least when it comes to meals -- is by eating a large bowl of soup. This soup utilizes those yummy slow-roasted tomatoes I wrote about two weeks ago. Their deeper caramelized flavor really enhances this rather simple tomato soup. Add some crusty bread on the side -- or even better, open-faced cheese toasties (a fancy way to say crusty bread with cheese melted on top) -- and you've got yourself a hearty meal for a (super) cold winter's day or night.

Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic gloves, peeled and sliced thinly
4 large fresh basil leaves
1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes and their juices
1 cup filtered water (swirl it around in the empty tomato can to get all those extra bits)
16 pieces (8 whole) slow-roasted tomatoes
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

For garnish:
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn or chopped
extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
2. Add the garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until golden (about 2 minutes). Add the basil leaves, whole-peeled tomatoes and their juices, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it reaches your preferred consistency. (You could also use your blender, just use caution and let heat escape as you blend the soup in batches.) Return the pot to the stove and stir in the slow-roasted tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls, then garnish with torn fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
5. Leftover soup can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.

(adapted from a recipe in My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow)