Here in San Francisco, we don’t really get a summer. I do my best to keep mum about this, but it’s kind of a weirdly overpowering phenomenon: while the rest of the country is in the thrall of muggy nights and the joys of popsicles and days at the beach, we are wrapped in our coats and scarves, raising our fists to the perennially grey sky in mute frustration. My point is, as much as I love summer foods, sometimes it feels weird to write about a salad when it’s 59 degrees and foggy outside.
Autumn is the season that San Francisco does best. And that is probably because it spends the whole year practicing – where Los Angeles could be described as a nearly year-round summer, we are pretty much always in a state of autumn. Blame the tempering influence of the Pacific Ocean.
Now that it is September, and one day shy of the official start of fall, I can share all those soups that I secretly fantasized about on our chilly summer days. The beauty of this tomato soup is that it capitalizes on the peak of tomato season, which is very much happening in this corner of the world. Roasting them first sweetens and deepens the flavor. I used heirloom tomatoes, but that’s not a requirement. Top with a large crouton and some fresh tarragon, and cozy up to the shorter days and golden light of autumn.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Tarragon
3 lbs ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
3-6 cloves garlic, depending on size
4 cups chicken stock (may substitute vegetable stock)
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper
fresh tarragon for garnish
4-6 slices crusty baguette for crouton
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Quarter tomatoes and onion. Along with the whole cloves of garlic, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, until browning and a little caramelized. Place roasted vegetables in a large stock pot, add chicken stock and bay leaves and slowly bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle parmesan into soup and stir to blend. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Turn off heat. Use an immersion blender or standard blender and blend until smooth.
To make the croutons: Slice baguette diagonally, brush with olive oil and bake at 250 until a light golden brown.