Do we really need another tomato soup recipe on the internet? I didn’t think so, until I made this roasted tomato and fennel soup with parmesan shrimp! The soup is already good by itself, with on-the-vine tomatoes roasted to their very best rich, sweet flavor, perfectly complemented by a hint of bright, savory fennel. Topping it off with these delicious simple roasted shrimp turn this soup into a complete meal that will be a healthy and hearty addition to your weeknight dinner rotation.
I’ve struggled with how to make this roasted tomato and fennel soup recipe interesting enough for this blog. I’ve monkeyed with the recipe--different toppings, different types of tomatoes, different aromatics--and nothing was inspiring me. But one night I wanted to make this soup a complete meal for my family without adding grilled cheese sandwiches (which we all know is tomato soup’s lifelong bff...but not the healthiest choice). After digging through my freezer I surfaced with a bag of shrimp, and an idea was officially born.
Making roasted tomato soup from scratch is obviously not as easy as buying prepared tomato soup, but the flavor, the texture, and the heartiness of homemade soup just can’t be replicated in a shelf-stable product. This recipe uses a variety of ingredients and techniques to build more depth and complexity than anything that can be produced and distributed commercially. But seriously, minus the actual roasting time, this soup only takes minutes of actual labor; even the shrimp is fast and easy! And the soup freezes beautifully, so you can easily make a double batch and throw half in the freezer for an easy weeknight meal in a couple of weeks.
Feeling the fennel love
If you have been reading my blog, you know I am loving fennel right now. You could make this soup without the fennel, but for me it’s the fennel that really makes it special. The flavor from the fennel bulb is reminiscent of anise or black licorice, but mellower, with a fresh, clean taste. Paired with sweet, rich tomatoes, it gives the soup a bright, savory note that compliments both the soup and the shrimp. It’s totally worth the little bit of extra effort to gain all that flavor.
When buying fennel bulbs, look for bright white, firm bulbs with no bruising on the outside layer. If the bulb has its stems, make sure they are still crisp, and that the leaves are bright and firm. Fennel will only keep for 3-5 days, so buy it close to when you need to use it.
The perfect pairing: tomato and seafood
I am a huge fan of tomatoes with seafood, a la cioppino, gumbo, bouillabaisse, and paella. It’s a classic pairing, especially in the Mediterranean, but it is found in cuisines all around the world. I’m a little surprised at myself for not ever thinking of adding seafood to tomato soup before, but I am really pleased with how it turned out. It’s so easy to keep a batch of tomato soup in the freezer along with a one-pound bag of shrimp and have a complete meal at your fingertips.
The cooking method for the shrimp couldn't be easier either. Just season them right on a sheet pan while your veggies finish roasting, and pop them in the oven for a few minutes while your blended soup comes to a simmer. Everything is ready all at once!
Tips for making fabulous roasted tomato and fennel soup
- Use on-the-vine tomatoes. You can use roma tomatoes, but my experience is that unless you are getting farm-grown romas at the height of summer, they generally aren’t great. Sometimes they are virtually tasteless. The vine-ripe tomatoes usually have pretty good tomato flavor all year.
- Remove the seeds. One thing that can put me off of homemade tomato soup is seeds. It really messes with the final texture of my blended soup. To correct this, after halving my tomatoes, I use my thumbs or a small spoon to get out as many seeds as I can.
- Use a good broth. As a broth snob, I usually have homemade broth in my freezer, but there are several excellent brands available to buy. My favorite for this soup is Pacific Foods Organic Vegetable Broth. Chicken broth works too if that’s what you have on hand.
Roasted tomato-fennel soup can easily be made ahead and reheated over medium heat. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 days, or kept in the freezer for up to two months.
Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup with Garlic-Parmesan Shrimp
- Aluminum foil
- Blender or immersion blender
For the soup
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to adjust seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 6-8 vine-ripened tomatoes about 2 pounds
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and woody end trimmed, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 bulb fennel
- 3 large shallots peeled and halved lengthwise
- 2 cups vegetable broth chicken broth works too
For the shrimp
- 1 pound 16/20 shrimp, peeled with tail left on
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- chopped fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese
Roast the vegetables
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your baking sheet by covering it with aluminum foil (this will prevent the acid in the tomatoes from damaging your baking sheet as they roast). Drizzle the baking sheet with two tablespoons of olive oil and brush it around so it coats the foil completely. Season liberally with half of the salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove the rosemary leaves from the woody stems and distribute evenly on the baking sheet. If you’d like a little heat in your soup, you can also add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the cores. Use a small spoon or your thumbs to remove as many of the seeds as you can. Place them cut side down on the seasoned baking sheet.
- Trim the top and bottom of the fennel bulb, then cut it in half lengthwise from top to bottom. Slice the halves into 4-5 wedges. Distribute the fennel on the baking sheet.
- Place the garlic cloves under tomato halves on the baking sheet to prevent them from burning. Distribute the halved shallots, cut side down, amongst the other vegetables.
- Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and lightly season the tops of the vegetables with the rest of the salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, keeping an eye on the pan to make sure nothing is burning. If anything does start to burn, pluck it off the pan with tongs and set aside in a bowl until the rest of the vegetables are done. A little char is okay.
- After 45 minutes, the tomato skins should be cracked and everything should have a little bit of color. Make sure the fennel is roasted through and soft. Take the veggies out and let them rest on the baking sheet for five minutes (leave the oven on for the shrimp).
Prepare the shrimp
- During the last 5 minutes of roasting, cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Lay the shrimp out on the sheet pan and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Drizzle the shrimp with olive oil and season liberally with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Using your hands or a pair of tongs, toss them together to coat with the oil and spices, then spread them back out.
- Sprinkle each shrimp with a generous amount of parmesan cheese. Use tongs to flip each shrimp over and repeat on the other side.
Finish it up!
- If you are using an immersion blender: Transfer the vegetables to a saucepan, add the stock, and blend until smooth. 2-3 minutes.
- If you are using a standard blender: Transfer the vegetables to the blender and add the stock. The vegetables are hot, so be careful to vent your blender by removing the chute lid or popping the pour spout, but keep you hand over it while the blender runs. Blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a saucepan.
- Heat to a simmer for serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- While the soup is coming to a simmer, roast the shrimp in the 425 degree oven for 8 minutes.
- Spoon the soup into bowls and top each bowl with 3-4 shrimp, a sprinkle of parsley and a generous dusting of parmesan cheese.
- This recipe makes 4 hearty dinner servings or 6 lighter lunch servings.
- I have had batches of this soup turn out less tomato-ey than I like, sometimes that just happens with tomatoes out of season. To correct this, whisk in 1 tablespoon of tomato paste while the soup is simmering.
- If your shrimp are smaller or larger than the 16/20 per pound size, adjust the roasting time by a minute or two. Look for the shrimp to be opaque and the tails and veins to be bright red.
- To prevent the shrimp from sticking on the pan, remove them to a bowl or plate as soon as you take them out of the oven.