Liddie’s Traditional New Mexican Dishes: Roasted Tomato Cream Soup With Rosemary Parmesan Croutons

Video on how to prepare roasted tomato cream soup with rosemary parmesan croutons. Video by Liddie Martinez 

By LIDDIE MARTINEZ
Española Valley

When the summer heat surrenders to crisp mornings and flowers are dotted with dew, our eyes go searching for tomatoes. The magnificent and colorful jewels abound in roadside stands, farmers markets and our own kitchen gardens across our state. 

Too soon our divine caprese salads and fresh and fragrant salsa recipes do not call for the volume of pulp we have on hand. Crates and boxes, buckets, baskets, strainers and vacant hats spill over with the harvest. We freeze, can, dry and give them away by the wheel barrowful but still, there are more. What to do? Make sauce or, better yet, soup! Easy enough to freeze by portions, we will be so delighted when this winter we are too tired to cook and find a delicious bowl of homemade soup is near effortless and waiting.

I remember one year my Aunt Lia, who always planted a substantial garden behind her home in El Rancho, had a bumper crop of tomatoes. She enlisted our help and we spent two days picking and chopping tomatoes; we even made several batches of ketchup. Who could have guessed that working so hard could be so much fun? My cousin Phyllis always made my sister Verna and me feel right at home on their ranch and watching our moms in the kitchen alongside our grandmother was a treat so rare and precious it is easy to recall in detail. They told us stories of past harvests and of processing triumphs in volumes hard to imagine. All were experts at food prep and preservation. Only now do I recognize the gift they were sharing.

Tomatoes have been around since around 700 A.D. and thanks to the Aztec empire, we learned about the fruit and quickly adopted it into our cuisine exactly as we did with chile when the Spanish arrived.

This recipe is similar to my mother’s but I have added cream in addition to broth and I always serve with homemade croutons, which really make the dish. It sounds complicated but it is really very easy if you have all the ingredients at hand.

One word of caution: the croutons will disappear the minute they come out of the oven so make a double or triple batch. They store well in a Ziplock bag and do not last long enough to worry about them going stale.

Roasted tomato cream soup with rosemary parmesan croutons. By Liddie Martinez 

Roasted Tomato Cream Soup

7 large, ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled and rough chopped

7 garlic cloves

1 onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

5 Tbsps. olive oil, divided

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp. dry rosemary

½ tsp. dry thyme

2 Tbsps. butter

2 Tbsps. tomato paste

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Salt & pepper to taste

Flat Italian Parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400° and toss tomatoes, carrots and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet.  Bake for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat sauté onion and celery in remaining olive oil until onions are transparent then cover with tight fitting lid and sweat over low heat for about 30 minutes. When onions and celery are done, add butter, tomato paste and thyme increasing the flame to medium-high. Cook for 2 minutes then add the broth and bring to a boil.

Add roasted vegetables to the pot- they should be ready by now. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer on low very gently for 1 hour. Cool slightly then purée in blender in three batches adding 1/3 cup cream to each batch. Return purée to pot with lid to keep warm until you are ready to serve.

Rosemary Parmesan Croutons

2 cups day old bread cut into 1” cubes

3 Tbsps. olive oil

1 Tbsp. dry rosemary

1 tsp.  Kosher salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Using a mortar and pestle, ground dry rosemary to powder form

In a medium sized bowl toss bread cubes with olive oil and spices, reserving cheese for later.

Place bread cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, toss, then sprinkle with cheese and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Cool on a rack.

Serve hot soup with floating croutons and parsley garnish.

Serves 6

Editor’s note: Liddie Martinez is the author of the popular Chile Line Cookbook: Historic Recipes of Northern New Mexico, which is available online at www.pajaritopress.com.

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