When I was a teenager with braces on my teeth, every six weeks or so my Mom and I would drive the hour or so up to Williams Lake and get my braces tightened. Usually, the new wires would make my teeth so sore that there was little I could comfortably eat, so often I settled for canned tomato soup.
Years later, I still don't like tomato soup all that much. Now that I'm an adult I can make my own tomato soup, but I have often still found it to be pretty devoid of flavor, watery, and not something I'd normally choose.
Recently, I got my hands on a copy of Julie's new cookbook Spilling the Beans, and in it was this recipe. What makes it different? Not only are you using tomatoes in three different ways (paste, roasted, sundried), you making the soup thick by adding lentils and steel cut oats. Oats? In soup? Trust me on this one, it's really delicious, filling, and freezes well.
A word on the tomatoes: make sure they are the best you can buy. I swear by Italian brands of tomatoes such as Italissima because they have little, if any, added salt, and the juice isn't just a watery mixture but instead, a thick tomato juice. Also, steel cut oats are also known as pin head oats, if you are having difficulty finding them.
Adapted from Spilling the Beans
2 cans (28 oz each) whole tomatoes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 onions, chopped
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 Tbsp finely chopped sun dried tomatoes (oil packed)
1 cup dry red lentils
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/3 cup steel cut oats
Pre heat your oven to 425 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
Open the cans of tomatoes and drain them well, reserving the juice. Taking the whole tomatoes, give them a little squeeze to slice them open and let the juice drain out of them as well. Then take the whole tomatoes and place them on the baking sheet in a single layer, spreading them out so they have room to roast. Drizzle olive oil on them and then sprinkle with the brown sugar, some salt and pepper.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. The pan will become blackened in places, but don't worry-it's really great for your tomatoes, and with all that tin foil you'll have easy clean up. Add the garlic cloves and roast for another 10-20 minutes, until the garlic cloves are soft. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a big soup pot, saute your chopped onion in oil until it's soft and translucent. Add in the tomato paste, reserved tomato juice, stock, sundried tomatoes, herbs, and lentils. Using a spoon or fork, smash up the roasted tomatoes and garlic into smaller pieces before adding them to the pot as well. Bring to a simmer for about 15 min before adding the oats, and simmer for about 10-15 min more until everything is tender and cooked through.
Makes 8 servings