That "good use" turned out to be a triple batch of roasted tomato basil soup. We certainly enjoyed it, and I hope that you will, too.
Before I proceed to the recipe and instructions, here are a few background comments about tomatoes and basil –
Tomatoes actually had their origin in the Western Hemisphere and were cultivated by people living in Mexico by around 500 BC. The Spanish conquistadors brought the tomato to Europe in the 1500s and also distributed it among their colonies in the Caribbean and even the Philippines. In the mid-1500s, tomatoes were cultivated primarily as ornamental plants in Italy, however, by the end of the 1600s, published recipes using tomatoes began to appear. By 1710, tomatoes were being grown in present-day South Carolina. Whether they arrived via Great Britain or the Caribbean is unclear.
So are tomatoes fruits or a vegetables? Although, botanically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit, that question became significant for financial reasons in 1887. At that time, US tariff laws placed a duty on fruits but not vegetables. To address that issue, the US Supreme Court declared the tomato a vegetable based on its use in 1893.
Basil seems to have a little less controversy regarding its classification. It is believed to be native to India and has been cultivated there for about 5,000 years. Basil grows best in warm, dry climates and is very sensitive to cold. This probably explains its widespread use in Italian and Southeast Asian. Here in the Intermountain West, I generally wait until late May to plant mine. Although sweet basil is the most commonly grown type of basil, over 160 varieties are available. The term basil is derived from the Greek word basileus, meaning king, and many regard it as the king of herbs.
Now, let's put this soup together. This recipe will yield about 8 servings.
3 pounds of fresh tomatoes cut into halves or quarters
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
6 minced garlic cloves - feel free to use less if you wish
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes or 1 quart of home canned tomatoes with the juice (Note: if you have additional fresh tomatoes that you want to dice up and substitute for canned ones, I anticipate that would be just fine)
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (depending on your preferences, you can use more or less)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water (I use chicken stock)
1. Combine the fresh tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic together such that the tomatoes are coated with the oil. Spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet and roast at 400ºF for 45 minutes. What to do about the tomato skins: I kept the skins on for about 2/3 of the tomatoes and peeled the other 1/3. I chose to peel the ones with cracks or rougher areas on them. As you boil the ingredients together and then use the immersion blender, the skins really don't become an issue at all. Here is one of my pans ready to go into the oven.
Here they are after having been roasted. I really liked tossing the minced garlic in to be roasted along with the tomatoes.
2. Saute the chopped onion in 2 tbsp olive oil, the butter and red pepper flakes until the onion becomes translucent.
3. Stir in the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, chicken stock, and the roasted tomatoes (including the juice). Don't worry about cutting up the basil leaves, you will be blending them later. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 40 minutes. Here is my soup simmering on the stove. Remember that I made a triple recipe - hence the large, nearly full cooking pot.
4. Allow the soup to cool and blend with an immersion blender to desired consistency. I blended ours to be fairly smooth with a few tomato pieces remaining.
5. Enjoy with a grilled cheese sandwich or some good warm toasted bread.