Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup with Nettle Pesto

Okay, so fire-roasted may be a stretch. But while tomatoes, red peppers, and garlic are merely roasted in the oven, the effect is almost the same, with that deep, rich flavor that only high heat can seduce out of the main ingredients. But the real show-stopper here, the element that takes a good soup over the top to make it great is the stinging nettle pesto floated on the surface. Roasted garlic meets raw garlic—with a vernal shot of the wild thrown in for good measure.

Let me tell you, folks, this is some good action—and if you're still dubious about pesky stinging nettles, wander over here or here to see what all the nutritional hoohaw is. These are some seriously salubrious greens. They make spinach look like junk food.

I posted about the pesto the other day. To make the soup I tooled around the Infobahn for a while, cherry-picking ideas from a variety of recipes. You know what I discovered? People really like tomato soup. There's no shortage of recipes online. I decided to go for a hearty, rustic sort of deal, though you can tame this soup into a smoother, more genteel presentation with a good long pulse in a food processor.

1 28 oz can whole or diced tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 head garlic, sliced in half across cloves
3 cups vegetable stock (or more)
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 shallot, julienned, for garnish
nettle pesto, for garnish

1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a glass baking dish with 2 tbsp olive oil. Drain can of tomatoes, reserving liquid, and pour into dish. Brush oil onto red peppers and garlic halves and add to dish. Roast, flipping peppers once, until peppers start to blacken and garlic is soft, about 30 minutes.

2. In heavy pot over medium heat, saute onion and celery in a tablespoon or so of olive oil until soft, several minutes.

3. Peel garlic and set aside. Add roasted tomatoes and peppers to pot, along with 2 cups of stock, reserved tomato liquid, oregano, rosemary, and seasoning. Simmer 10 minutes. Add roasted garlic and blend together to desired consistency with immersion blender or food processor. Add 1 more cup of stock (or more), stir, and simmer another couple minutes.

4. Saute shallot in oil until starting to caramelize. Remove to paper towel and salt.

5. Serve soup and garnish with crispy shallot bits and a few dollops of stinging nettle pesto.


Anonymous said...

Tomatoes in the freezer and a fresh bag of nettles in hand, I'm in. I could try this on my way into a detox week, as described in your recent post, along with some nettle tea. Your detox sounds healthy enough and more like feast than famine.

Anonymous said...

YUM, looks awesome. I seriously need to get me some nettles.

Love the textural switch up with the fried shallot.

Sha said...

That seems to be a perfect soup! Love it!

Martha Silano said...

Sally - The de-tox was definitely not famine, but if you haven't experienced a cleansing before you might mistake it for one.

Matt - Sea-level nettles are probably still young enough, provided you take the top several inches; foothills nettles should be nearing perfect size soon, although I haven't checked yet. That's the nice thing about living amidst topography: multiple harvest.

Sha - Thanks for stopping by. The soup is good if I don't say so myself.

Langdon Cook said...

Oops...I'm using Marty's laptop and just commented as her.

Unknown said...

This recipe tastes GREAT. I used can "Fire Roasted" tomatoes and it tasted great.

Thanks so much for the recipe!

Langdon Cook said...

Julia - Glad to hear it! And thanks for reporting on the canned "Fire-Roasted"--I meant to mention this in the post. There are some good organic varieties of fire-roasted that simplify the recipe, although I'd still recommend roasting the garlic and peppers.