Homemade Roasted Tomato Soup

Back when you were a kid, did your Mom serve you canned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches? Now you can do the same for your family by making homemade tomato soup that will bring smiles to their lips and warmth to their tummies! Plus, it is so much better for you than the canned version.

1 28-ounce can petite diced tomatoes

3-4 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1/2 cup extra virgin first cold-pressed olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 stalks celery, diced

2 small carrots, diced

2 yellow onions, diced

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

4 Tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

4 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach, optional

Parmesan cheese, optional

Splash cream, or half-and half or milk, optional

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Strain the diced canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet along with the fresh Roma tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and bake until caramelized, about 15 minutes. (You can throw in three or four garlic cloves with the tomatoes if you want).

-Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrots, onions and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, tomato paste, chicken broth, bay leaves and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil and spinach and simmer five more minutes. Add cream, half-and-half or milk, if using. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Serves 8.

Note: You can add tiny cooked pasta, like ditilini, to this recipe if you want. To skip a step, you can use fire-roasted tomatoes. I like to serve this soup with toasted French bread if I'm not serving grilled cheese sandwiches with it.