Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ Smokey 'n Sweet Roasted-Tomato & Thyme Soup a la "The Philips"... and don't forget the Frico! ~

PICT3905Savvy cooks and chef's know that when tomatoes start to go out-of-season in the Fall, or, are really out-of-season throughout the Winter, roasting them in the oven concentrates their flavor, making them a truly succulent and sweet ingredient to use in a myriad of savory culinary applications.  If you are a consummate tomato lover like me, this is great news!

In the Fall, the Philips Hotel and 1921 Restaurant occasionally has a "to die for" tomato soup featured on their "soup du jour" menu.  It is thick, rich, slightly sweet, and contains just a hint of smoky flavor... reminiscent of the Summer grill flavors we Central Pennsylvanians left behind us a few short weeks ago.  Adding a bit of cream to this soup, if you'd like to turn it into a cream soup, while an option, is one I recommend "holding off on" until you've tasted it.   After recently eating it again at The Philips for lunch, accompanied by a fabulous Caesar salad, I found myself driven (all the way back to Boalsburg) to create my own version to share with all of you today!

Tomato soup deserves its own identity.  

From a personal standpoint, many roasted tomato soup recipes taste too much like pasta sauce, meaning:  they are too often flavored with basil or oregano.  I am pleased to report this not to be the case at The Philips.  In fact, I was wowed by their subtle use of thyme as the herb, as well as an obvious hint of caramelized sugar, which brought their soup's flavor up to a level of simple, elegant, French-style decadence!

PICT381812, medium-large sized, vine-ripened tomatoes, about 4 pounds, top core removed, tomatoes sliced in half pole-to-pole

2  very large yellow or sweet onions, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and coarsely chopped

2  heads garlic, peeled, about 2 ounces peeled garlic cloves

8-10  sprigs fresh thyme

8  tablespoons olive oil (1/2 cup), total throughout recipe

3-4  tablespoons dark brown sugar

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

3  cups vegetable stock (chicken stock can be substituted), preferably homemade (Note: You can find my recipes for making chicken or vegetable stock in Categories 15 & 22.)

1/2-3/4  teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2-1 teaspoon additional sea salt

PICT3820~ Step 1.  Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.

PICT3825~ Step 2.  Add the onions and garlic to pan. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Using your hands, toss to coat.  Place the thyme sprigs on the top, followed by a light grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend.

~ Step 3.  Arrange the tomato halves over the top of the onion mixture, spacing them slightly apart. Drizzle tomatoes with the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes with brown sugar, followed by a light grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend.

PICT3861~ Step 4.  Roast on center rack of preheated 375 degree oven, about 1-1 1/2 hours, or until onions are caramelized and tomatoes have a bit of a char to their tops.

Note:   Timing will vary depending upon the consistency and ripeness of the tomatoes.  What the finished mixture looks like is more important than the time it takes.

PICT3866~ Step 5.  Transfer the vegetable mixture to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. If you do not have a large processor, do this in 2-3 batches.

PICT3873~ Step 6. Using a series of about 30 rapid on-off pulses, process until a "semi-chunky" puree is formed, or a puree to your liking.

PICT3879~ Step 7.  Transfer to a 3 1/2-4-quart chef's pan or stockpot.  Add the stock and smoked paprika.  Over moderate heat, bring to a gentle simmer.  Taste.  Adjust seasoning, adding additional sea salt, if necessary.  Simmer gently for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover pan/pot and set aside, to steep for about 15-20 minutes, to allow the flavors to marry.



PICT3924Let's face it, we've all pretty much grown up eating tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. One without the other is, well... almost unAmerican.  In its simplest form, "frico" (pronounced free-co) are fried Italian Parmesan cheese crisps that are typically broken into pieces and then sprinkled over a main dish or salad, to add a flavorful, cheesey, salty, crunch. In the case of this soup, we're going to float one on the top of each bowl.  The Philips will certainly serve you a great grilled cheese sandwich with your tomato soup if you request it, but, I find their parmesan crisps to be just plain fun.  It just so happens that I've been making these for my own kids for quite some time here in Melanie's Kitchen, and I can't wait to show you how easy they are to make.  Frico is, simply put, a way to bring the grilled cheese directly to your soup!

You'll need 6 ounces of shredded Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese, a 6"-8" nonstick skillet and a nonstick spatula:

PICT3882~ Step 1.  Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons, in a 3" disc shape, evenly into the bottom of the skillet, keeping the cheese "light" around the edges so it looks lacy.  When golden on the underside, after about 1-1 1/2 minutes:  





~ Step 2. Slip the spatula underneath it and flip it over.  Cook on the second side, about 20-30-40 seconds, until second side is golden brown too. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to cool. Repeat this process as many times as your frico-loving heart desires (which will be 12).  Portion soup into 6 warmed serving bowls, top each with a Parmesan crisp and one to the side. Serve immediately!



Smoky 'n Sweet Roasted-Tomato & Thyme Soup a la "The Philips"... and don't forget the Frico!: Recipe yields 2 quarts of soup/6 servings and 12 parmesan crisps.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; aluminum foil; parchment paper; food processor; 3 1/2-4-quart chef's pan or stockpot w/lid; 6"-8" nonstick skillet; nonstick spatula

Cook's Note:  This soup is a tomato soup lovers dream come true.  It freezes beautifully and my recipe is written to double or triple without any more effort than an extra 5-10 minutes in preparation time!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference ~ Smokey 'n Sweet Roasted-Tomato & Thyme Soup a la "The Philips"... and don't forget the Frico! ~:


Chef! Thanks for the kind compliments. Coming from one who knows how much work it is to develop a recipe this means even more. Happy cooking!

I most assuredly will make an attempt at this marvelous Tomato Soup. Mel, you are a wonderful Chef

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment