In tomato season, a classic BLT is hands-down my favorite sandwich, or possibly one of my favorite foods period. Since I also love soup, it wasn’t a big leap to morph them into one dish. All of the traditional BLT elements are in the mix: tomatoes, bacon, lettuce (or arugula here, for a nice peppery note), toast (croutons,) and the essential mayonnaise too—dressed up with a little roasted garlic. You can serve this either chilled or hot, weather and mood depending. —amysarah
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Amysarah is a longtime Food52 member who lives in the New York City area and cooks inventive, vegetable-centric dishes.
WHAT: A sandwich in a bowl! (We have no complaints.)
HOW: Bring roasted onions, garlic, and tomatoes, to a simmer with chicken broth, sugar, vinegar, and chopped basil. Purée the soup, then serve it with a garlic-mayonnaise sauce, croutons, arugula, and pan-fried bacon bits.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This soup goes where other soups wouldn't dare—it leaves fall stews behind and steps into summer, and declares itself not just a side but an entire meal (the addition of croutons, arugula, and bacon take care of that). —The Editors
Halve or quarter tomatoes, depending on size, and scrape out the seeds (no need to be meticulous.) Lay cut side down in a baking dish along with the onion and garlic cloves. Scatter the oregano branches around, drizzle everything with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the kosher salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes, basting once or twice with the liquid in the pan, until the tomatoes begin to caramelize and the garlic cloves are soft.
Remove from the oven and cool for few minutes, then pull off the tomato skins (not completely necessary, but it’s a cinch to do and makes the soup's texture a little nicer). Discard the oregano branches. Squeeze the garlic from its skin onto the baking sheet, holding back 2 cloves to use in the mayonnaise mixture.
Transfer the roast vegetables and all the accumulated pan juices to a large pot and add the chicken broth, sugar, the red pepper flakes, vinegar, and chopped basil. Bring to a simmer, for around 10 minutes.
Use an emulsion blender to purée the soup until it’s fairly smooth. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary.
Meanwhile, make the roasted garlic mayonnaise. Mash the 2 remaining roasted garlic cloves to a paste. Whisk them into the mayonnaise. If the mixture is too thick to drizzle, whisk in a little water (go easy, it only takes a little).
Pan-fry the diced bacon until crispy and drain well on a paper towel-lined plate.
To make the croutons, drizzle the day-old bread with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt, and toss to coat lightly. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in a 375° F oven (while the vegetables roast, if you’re a multi-tasking sort) for about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning once or twice. Set aside.
Toss arugula (or lettuce) leaves with a drop of olive oil—just enough to add a hint of shine.
Serve the soup chilled, room temperature, or hot, topped with a drizzle of the garlic mayonnaise, a small mound of arugula, and a scattering of croutons and bacon bits.