Normally I would stir up some biscuits to accompany soup, but today it was the other way around. I made a batch of pesto-filled cheese slab scones for CBC this morning, thinking they might be appropriate for our chat about kids and picnicking, but later on, when there was a slab scone to spare, I really couldn’t imagine anything better to accompany a bowl of soup. Since it has been about to rain all day long (like the pause before a sneeze), soup is fitting. Since the scones are filled with pesto, roasted tomato soup made sense. All the stars fell into alignment when I noticed a bunch of tomatoes going wrinkly on top of the breadbox.
But, the scones. Inspired by the mega scones on Heidi’s blog, these are great slabs of cheesy biscuit dough, folded over pesto to enclose it like a letter. Heidi’s version was lemony, slathered with raspberry jam and drizzled with a glaze. I turned mine into cheese biscuits, divided the dough in half and filled one package with sundried tomato pesto (this one was the best – it came to the studio with me this morning) and one with plain basil pesto, as per W’s love for the stuff.
There is so much potential for these scones. I love that you can fill them, easily, with anything; jam, preserves, cinnamon-sugar, ham and cheese, pie filling, even. Most scones take on additions well, but these you can flavor and then fill. The best part is you can slice off pieces as thin or thick as you like; it even made a great base for eggs on toast at lunch.
Pesto & Cheese Slab Scones
If you want a sweet version, omit the cheese and use jam or preserves in place of the pesto. If you like, add grated orange or lemon zest to the dough, brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar (or more if you make a sweet version)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup grated old cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, half & half or 2% milk
1/2-2/3 cup sun dried tomato pesto or basil pesto (from a jar)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend using a pastry cutter or fork, or pulse the food processor until the mixture is combined but there are still bits of butter no bigger than a pea.
If you’re using a food processor, dump the mixture out into a bowl. Add the cheeses and toss to combine. Add the buttermilk, cream or milk, and stir just until the dough comes together. Divide it in half, and on a floured surface roll each piece into a 10″-12″ square. Spread the pesto in a strip down the middle third, and fold each half over it, overlapping like a letter. If you like, brush the tops with a little extra milk.
Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden. Cut into whatever sized pieces you like.
Makes two slab scones.
And the tomato soup. Another easy thing to make, and a great use of tomatoes that have passed their prime. I don’t really bother measuring, although I’ve provided some measurements below for those who crave them; I’ll use about 4 big tomatoes, 6 or so Romas, or a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes. Spread them on a cookie sheet and roast them with as many cloves of garlic as you like, then add stock and a bit of milk or cream, until you have soup with the consistency you like. Puree it until it’s chunky or smooth.
Roasted Tomato Soup
It’s important to use ripe, flavorful tomatoes for this soup, since their flavor is paramount. If you have overripe, wrinkled, or squishy tomatoes around, use them up, so long as they don’t have any bad spots. Roasting them transforms their flavor, making them sweet and smoky. It’s a great way to make tomato sauce for pasta, too – just blend it without adding the stock.
about 3 lb. ripe tomatoes
a good drizzle of canola or olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 head garlic, cloves peeled (or 2 cloves, if you don’t want it too garlicky)
2 cups (500 mL) chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup milk, half and half or whipping cream (optional)
Chopped fresh basil or pesto (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Cut the tomatoes in chunks (or in half, widthwise, if you’re using Roma tomatoes) and place them on a large rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting pan with the cloves of garlic. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about an hour, until the tomatoes are juicy with dark edges and the garlic is very soft. Set it aside to cool for a bit.
If you have a hand-held immersion blender (I highly recommend one), transfer the tomatoes, garlic and all the juices that have collected in the pan into a medium saucepan and set it over medium heat. If not, transfer it to a blender or food processor, puree it (add a little stock if you need to get it moving) and then transfer it to a pot. Add the chicken stock and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. If you are going to add cream, turn the heat down to low and add it at the last minute, stirring just until the soup is heated through. If you like, stir in a small handful of chopped fresh basil or a spoonful of pesto just before serving.