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Tomato Soup with Roasted Garlic and Saffron

Serves 6 – 8 

Saffron adds a fragrant spin to this favorite soup recipe.


  • 2 whole heads of garlic
  • olive oil, to coat
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 TBS dried thyme
  • 1 ½ cups. dry cooking sherry
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 (28 oz) can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp saffron threads
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • parmesan cheese (to serve on side)

Preheat oven to 400. Trim the top ¼” off the heads of garlic to expose the cloves inside.  Place the heads a baking dish, and drizzle them liberally with olive oil to coat (about 2 TBS per head). Roast the garlic for about 30 minutes, or until the cloves inside are soft. Remove from oven, and set aside until cool enough to handle. Squeeze the garlic out of the skin, discarding the skin. With a fork, mash the cloves of roasted garlic with a pinch of salt, and set aside. 

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add onion, with a generous pinch of salt and a big grind of pepper. Saute until the onions are soft (about 5 minutes), then stir in tomato paste. Cook about 3 minutes to caramelize the tomato paste, which will deepen its flavor. Add the carrot, celery, bell pepper, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high and add cooking sherry, bringing to a simmer. Stir in half of the roasted garlic, and then add all of the tomatoes, vegetable stock, saffron, and bay leaf. Return the pot to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until flavors are blended. Remove bay leaf and discard. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth (if using a standard blender instead, be careful not to fill the container more than halfway at a time, to prevent injury from the hot liquid). If you’d like the soup to have a more pronounced garlic flavor, you can add in the remainder of the roasted garlic as you are blending the soup. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Mix in most of the chopped parsley, and use the remaining parsley to garnish when it is served.

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