I never really understood the meaning of comfort food until I spent a year in the US working as an au-pair. This was in the North of America where the winters can get very long and very cold. The year I was there was no exception and the temperature would drop to -30°C. To comfort and to keep us warm my host mother use to serve us a wonderful tomato soup. The other day when the weather here was horrific (not below 0 just rainy and stormy) I got the urge to eat tomato soup. And this is the result. I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen as base and changed a few things after my liking. To first roast the tomatoes is amazing as it concentrate the sweet flavours. The red chili pepper gives the dish a bite and brings the flavours in balance.
1 kg plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
500 ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
8 chunky slices of bread
16 slices of goat cheese, about 1 cm thick
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cover a baking tray with a baking sheet. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the garlic cloves in a tight foil packet and add to the tray. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender, for about 30-40 minutes. Cool slightly.
Unwrap the garlic packet and peel cloves. Transfer cloves, tomatoes and any accumulated juices to a food processor and process until tomatoes are a chunky puree. Transfer the tomatoes to a pot and add thyme, crushed red pepper and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add 2 slices of cheese to each slice of bread. Place on an oven tray and grill in the oven until cheese is melting and is getting brown at the edges (5-6 minutes). Sprinkle with a bit of dried thyme before serving.