Roasted Tomato Soup for a Fall Supper

If you’re wondering why I would be talking tomatoes in October, you can rest easy. I’m not talking just any tomatoes. I’m talking ugly ass tomatoes. And I mean that in a nice way. Ugly ass tomatoes are like rainy days. Bear with me – this is a super tortured simile. You know how when it’s sunny, you feel guilty if you’re not outside? After a while, a rainy day comes as a relief because you don’t have to feel bad about poking around inside the house, right? Well, in August, when the tomatoes are gorgeous and bursting with life and flavor, you probably feel guilty eating them any way but raw. Turning a beautiful August tomato into sauce seems wrong somehow. But right now, giant buckets of ugly ass tomatoes are being sold for a song at the farmers markets. You don’t have to feel guilty about roasting them, simmering them, or cooking them into sweet caramelized submission because they are cheap, plentiful and so very ugly ass. And, like a rainy day, what a relief! See how I did that? Yep. 

To clarify for those of you unfamiliar with this lexicon, ugly ass pretty much covers tomatoes that are marred, bruised or otherwise imperfect and sold as “seconds” as well as insipid tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe enough or never had it in them to taste like anything. I went down to the Minneapolis Farmers Market earlier this week and picked up a giant bucket of plum tomatoes for five bucks. It felt like too much, I could barely carry everything to the car, but after an afternoon of roasting, my house smelled heavenly and I had only ended up with three cookie sheets worth. I need to go back for more.

I wrote about roasting and freezing tomatoes last year, because it is the best way to turn a bad tomato into a good tomato. But what about taking it a step further? I’ve had tomato soup on the brain lately, probably due to a combination of back-to-school and summer tomato withdrawal. I decided to see if I couldn’t make a soup that would be kid friendly enough for the short people in my house, yet rich and satisfying enough for me and my hubby. And you can’t really talk about tomato soup without talking about grilled cheese.

I bought a loaf of Harriet Beer Bread at Sun Street Breads, because suddenly grilled cheese and tomato soup WITH A BEER sounded like a perfect October dinner. I love that Sun Street lists the ingredients right on the menu board: flour, West side IPA, rye flakes, whole wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. What mad alchemy does Solveig Tofte use to turn such simple ingredients into such a complex tasting and textured loaf? Paired with a beautiful 5 Year Cheddar from Carr Valley Artisanal Cheese, out of LaValle, WI that I picked up at Kowalksi’s, I’m pretty sure I made the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. When there are only three ingredients involved, it helps when they’re stellar. The soup was delicious too, deeply tomato flavored and savory – a hit with everyone in the house.

Below is the recipe for my roasted tomato soup as well as one for Lawrence’s sauce, which he had coincidentally made the same week as me.  Once you taste the potential in those ugly ass tomatoes, you, like me and Lawrence, will never ignore them again. Now is the time to stock up, roast and freeze. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Soup – via Smitten Kitchen

3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large or 4 small cloves garlic, unpeeled

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried (I used dried and I would use less the next time as the flavor was a bit too strong for my taste)

1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) dried crushed red pepper

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap garlic cloves in a tight foil packet. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper (I used 1 full teaspoon of Kosher salt). Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil. Add foil packet of garlic to tray. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender (garlic will be very tender), about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Unwrap garlic packet and peel cloves. Transfer cloves, tomatoes and any accumulated juices to a blender or food processor* and pulse machine on and off until tomatoes are a chunky puree. Transfer tomatoes to medium pot and add thyme, crushed red pepper and stock and bring to a boil Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings to taste. As with most sauces and soups, it tastes better the next day.

*I stood for however long it took for my husband to take the kids to the bus stop and come back, staring at my beautifully roasted tomatoes and contemplating whether I really needed to pull out the processor. I am so lazy about pulling out big kitchen equipment. In the end, laziness prevailed and I dumped it all in a pot and went after it with my stick blender. It worked fine, especially if you like a bit of texture in your soup.

Roasted Tomato Sauce (from Italian, My Way by Jonathan Waxman...made from ugly tomatoes by Lawrence)

-The beauty of this recipe is that it is simple and requires very little effort, except for the processing of the tomatoes after they are roasted. If you don't have the herbs below, try oregano, tarragon and even a bit of lemon zest. I used plenty of all kinds of ugly ass tomatoes from the farmers market and it soared above any ordinary beefsteaks or romas.

Tomatoes, cored and halved

Garlic, minced

Rosemary, stemmed and chopped

Lavendar, stemmed and chopped

Olive oil


Mix the above and place in a roasting pan. Roast at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until tomatoes begin to brown just a bit. Blend with an immersion blend, food processor or blender when cooled enough to handle safely. 

I actually canned this sauce and then kept it in the refrigerator until I needed it. Because of the oil, I would not recommend keeping any canned extras at room temperature. I have used it over pasta and in baked pasta dishes. When you are preparing to serve it, don't be afraid to add olives, capers, chicken, etc.




Gabriela Lambert is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. You can also read more of her writing on her blog Her last post for SGT was Pin-Up Girl Eggplant - A Savory Dish For Those Purple Beauties.