I have been in California for nearly two weeks and am just getting my head back in the game. When I left for the West Coast it was still warm and a little muggy here, with the first hints of fall, but when I returned it was full on sweater weather. Even some of the leaves around my house are starting to turn orange and red. Surprisingly I still had a few tomatoes in my share – I used them to make this cozy, silky, and deceptively simple soup. I say deceptive because the depth of flavor is so rich and layered, giving a nod to summer produce but looking ahead to fall. Hopefully this soup recipe comes at the right time to take advantage of the last of your tomatoes, while staying warm at the start of what is arguably the best time of year here in New England.
The flavor in this soup really comes from the base of fennel, leeks, onions, and roasted garlic. It may take a little work to get it all together and smooth, but the end result is totally worth it. First thing to do is get the roasted garlic out of the way. Just cut the very top off a whole head of garlic and nestle the head into a sheet of foil. Pour a little olive oil over the garlic head and seal the foil around it. Then put it in a 350° oven for about 30 minutes, it is done when the cloves are soft. Remove it from the oven and take the foil off, let the garlic cool enough to handle then squeeze the roasted garlic from each clove, set roasted garlic aside until time to add it into the soup.
Remove the tops and roots from the fennel and leeks, and skin from the onions. Rinse leeks to remove any dirt, then roughly chop leeks, fennel, and onions.
In a large pot or enameled cast iron, heat oil and melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, and cook until very soft and slightly browned, 10 – 15 minutes. Add wine and scrape up browned vegetables bits on the bottom. Let the wine reduce a little then add the tomatoes, roasted garlic, salt, and fresh herbs then stir everything together.
Cover the pot and leave it over medium-low heat for about 25 – 30 minutes. The tomatoes will release a lot of liquid and become very soft. Once this has happened remove the soup from the heat, and set up a space where you can purée the soup then strain it into another pot to finish.
In batches using a food processor or blender purée the soup and start to strain it through the strainer.
Using a rubber spatula, press the purée through the strainer, then scrape the outside of the strainer.
If you have a lot of mass left in the strainer, you can purée this again, and strain again. Once all of the soup has been strained into the new pot, place it over medium heat and stir in cream, vinegar, and salt. Taste for salt and acid, then serve with a little olive oil and some fresh basil.