Ali Rakowski is the author of Bowls of Love: Paleo Soups for the Seasons, which will be published this fall. This guest post features one of her 50 delicious, nourishing recipes. You can find more recipes and updates on her blog:

Roasted Ithaca Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil Pesto
Roasted Ithaca Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil Pesto Photo: Erica Gannett (

My first memory of tomato soup was as a kid when my mom would heat up a can of Campbell’s with a toasty grilled cheese. My whole family loved it except for me, because I refused to eat tomatoes. I picked them off sandwiches, took them out of salads, and even scraped off extra sauce from my pizza. When I was 25, I decided enough was enough. I started ordering tomatoes with my meals, and I would force myself to eat 5% of them. That 5% became 10%, 10% became 25%, and I continued to force them down until I was a true convert. Now I pop cherry tomatoes like they are berries, and I eat all shapes, sizes, colors, and variety of tomatoes with great pleasure.

When I heard about Groundswell International’s Basil Recipe Contest, I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase my newfound appreciation for summertime tomatoes and the plethora of basil currently growing in my garden. I am a huge fan of Groundswell’s work strengthening rural communities to build healthy food and farming systems, and I was excited to participate in the recipe contest as a way to support Groundswell’s mission to raise awareness about the importance of GMO-free seeds.

As an amateur blogger, gardener and chef, I aspire to have a strong global following, a thriving garden and a shameless connection to the Food Network. As you can imagine, I was thrilled when I learned the Groundswell contest winner would be featured on Frisch Kitchen, and I knew it was meant to be to include one of the recipes from my upcoming cookbook, Bowls of Love: Paleo Soups for the Seasons, since the tomatoes and basil essentially came from Emma’s backyard in Ithaca.

Tomatoes from the Ithaca Farmer's Market Photo: Andrew Noyes
Tomatoes from the Ithaca Farmer’s Market
Photo: Andrew Noyes

Earlier this year, when Ryan (my fiancé) and I were in Ithaca, NY for a friend’s graduation, we stopped at the farmer’s market (among the best of the best in the U.S., if you ask me!) to pick up some goodies for our 100-square-foot terrace garden. We chose beautiful varieties of heirloom tomatoes and a selection of fresh herbs (including basil, of course). Over the past few months, Ryan has diligently watered our plants while I have been dedicated to boosting the confidence, and mental, emotional and physical health of our tomato babies.

As you can see, I have made some serious progress from my canned tomato soup days. Now I share my love of tomatoes with family and friends in a local, homemade soup that will blow any canned variety out of the water. You will taste the freshness and love from your garden, and you will never want to go back. When the summer nights start to get a little cool and your garden is overflowing with tomatoes and basil, you now know what to make. Roast up the tomatoes, drizzle with some fresh pesto, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!



Roasted Ithaca Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil Pesto

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


  • Roasted Tomato Soup:
  • Tomatoes – 3 pounds
  • Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Sweet onion – 1, diced
  • Shallot – 1, diced
  • Garlic – 1 heaping tablespoon, minced
  • Fresh basil – 1/2 cup packed (about 20 leaves)
  • Diced tomatoes – 15 ounce can (preferably organic with no added salt)
  • Vegetable stock – 4 cups
  • Basil Pesto:
  • Fresh basil – 4 oz.
  • Olive oil – 2-3 Tbsp.
  • Crushed garlic – 2 tsp.
  • Pine nuts – 1/4 cup
  • Sea salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Freshly ground black pepper – A few turns of the pepper mill


  1. Pesto:
  2. Add the basil to a food processor and pulse until basil breaks down
  3. Add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth (you may need to scrape the edges down a few times with a spatula.)
  4. Add additional olive oil or pine nuts if you like your pesto thinner or thicker.
  5. Soup:
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Slice the tomatoes length-wise, and arrange them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the tomatoes, and season with sea salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes for 45 minutes.
  8. In a large soup pot, heat the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, and add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes until tender.
  9. Add the can of tomatoes, fresh basil, and broth.
  10. Stir in the roasted tomatoes.
  11. Cook for 45 minutes uncovered over medium-low heat.
  12. Puree the soup with your immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth.
  13. Serve with sliced avocado or a grilled cheese if you are really feeling dangerous!


Allergens: tree nuts

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