Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They often bring some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them and cook up a feast.
Like Pete and Barb, I'm a soup fiend, especially this time of year, and the roasted tomato soup from Eli Varga-Ernst, a cook at Marczyk, is exceptional. "This is one of our best-selling soups; it's a big hit year-round," says Barb, adding that while the recipe calls for a hefty two cups of feta cheese, you can eliminate it entirely -- and instead make a grilled cheese sandwich and dunk it. If you follow the recipe and include the feta, be sure to have a good loaf of crusty garlic bread on hand. Varga-Ernst also recommends serving it alongside an arugula salad.
Roasted tomato soup with feta and mint serves 6 with plenty of leftovers
For the tomatoes
2 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper 1 ounce fresh thyme sprigs
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 2. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients (except thyme sprigs) and coat evenly. 3. Place tomatoes cut-side up on a sheet pan in a single layer, and scatter thyme sprigs on top. 4. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours (the tomatoes should lose much of their mass in water weight.) Discard thyme sprigs.
For the soup
3 tablespoons butter 1 pound yellow onions, julienned 1tablesoon garlic, minced 1 gallon hot vegetable stock 1 20-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes 2 cups heavy cream (you can also substitute 1 pound of cream cheese) 2 cups feta cheese, diced or crumbled 1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped Sea salt Fresh cracked pepper
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1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, saute onion in butter for 15 to 20 minutes over medium heat until golden in color. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and golden, another 10 minutes. 2. Add vegetable stock, roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes and cream, and bring to a simmer. 3. Add soup in batches to a blender (cover top of blender with a towel instead of using the lid, as the steam pressure will blow off the lid.) Return the soup to the pot, turn the burner to low and puree using an immersion blender, adding more stock if needed. 4. Add feta and fresh mint, stir and season with salt and pepper. 5. Serve with crusty bread.