Nothing soothes the soul more than a steaming bowl of zuppa! After a long week of travel coupled with the coldest of winter days, it was time for a cozy eve tucked in by the fire. And after a week of long business meetings and late evenings, I wanted nothing more than to spend long, lazy hours in the kitchen sharing great conversation and a great bottle of vino. First course for my picnic by the fire – a heart-warming bowl of roasted tomato soup with pancetta. I added a dollop of marscapone and some hearty red vino and all was right with the world. Give it a go…your heart and soul will thank you.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Pancetta
3 (14.5 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces pancetta, diced
1 quart chicken stock, divided
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
About 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese mixed with 1/4 cup sour cream (or 1/3 cup heavy cream) – optional
1 baking sheet
1 large soup pot
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Strain the diced tomatoes, reserve the juices. Spread the tomatoes, garlic, onion on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil – about 1/4 cup.
2. Roast for about 20 minutes until carmelized.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown and crispy – about 5 – 10 minutes. Drain excess fat, leaving about 3 tablespoons.
4. Add the roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion. Add in the reserved tomato juices. Add about 2/3 of the chicken stock, bay leaf and butter to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat to medium low. Allow to simmer until the yummy flavors blend – about 15 or 20 minutes.
5. Add the fresh basil leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Keep the soup over low heat. Add remaining chicken stock if too thick. Adjust seasoning.
6. Stir in the mascarpone or cream, if using.
7. Serve in warm serving bowls with crispy slices of crostini. Enjoy!