If you want a wonderful smoky flavor for your soup or salsa, use fire-roasted tomatoes. Though canned versions are easily available, it is easy to fire roast these vegetables at home.
Fire roasting refers to cooking on direct flame, till the skin of the vegetables get charred and blistered. This can be done in many different ways. You may roast tomatoes on an open burner, gas grill, charcoal grill, or a broiler. The degree of roasting tomatoes depends on what you intend to do with them.
- For fire-roasting, Roma or plum tomatoes are the best, as they have dense flesh with very little juice. They hold well while roasting, unlike some other juicy varieties that may turn mushy, as they release juices.
- Once you are ready with the tomatoes, thread them in a skewer, and rotate the skewer over an open burner. You may also spear tomatoes one by one, with a fork, and roast them over the open burner.
- Another method is to cook them on a gas grill. In that case, slice the tomatoes, and brush the cut side with olive oil. Place the tomato halves (with cut side facing down) on the gas grill, over medium flame. As the underside turns black, flip them and cook until the skin gets charred.
- In case of a charcoal grill, wash and pat dry the tomatoes, and place them over hot briquettes, in the middle. The briquettes should not be too hot. If you can hold your hands near them (at a distance of few inches) for around five seconds, then the heat is ideal. Make sure to turn the tomatoes in between, so that all the sides get charred evenly.
- You may also use a griddle for this purpose. Place the tomatoes over it till they are charred. In this case too, turn these vegetables for even cooking. In case of a broiler, all you have to do is to keep the tomatoes on the rack (in the broiling pan), and place it inside the device that is already very hot. Wait till all the sides get charred. Make sure that the broiler is very hot, and the tomatoes are placed near the flame.
As mentioned earlier, the degree of roasting is determined according to the requirement and flavor of the dish you intend to prepare. For some recipes you have to roast tomatoes till they develop dark spots, whereas for others, they have to be completely charred and blistered.
Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
- Chicken or vegetable broth (reduced sodium type) – 1 can
- Fire roasted tomatoes (organic) – 30 ounce (2 cans)
- Butter or olive oil – 1 tbsp.
- Onion – 1 (large)
- Garlic cloves – 2
- Sugar – 1 tsp.
- Crushed red pepper – ¼ tsp.
- Whipping cream – ½ cup
- Chopped fresh basil – 2 tbsp.
How to Prepare
Peel, wash, and chop the onion and garlic cloves. You may replace basil with fresh cilantro or parsley. Place a saucepan over medium heat. Heat the butter, and as it melts, add the chopped onion and garlic. Stir them till the onion gets tender. Add the fire roasted tomatoes. Follow with broth, chopped basil (one tablespoon), sugar, and crushed red pepper. Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. After that, remove the mixture from heat, and allow it to cool. You have to blend this mixture, till it transforms to a puree. It will be convenient to blend it in small batches. Once done, heat the puree in the saucepan. Remove from heat, as it gets hot, and fold in the cream. Garnish with the remaining chopped basil.