21
Sep
10

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

The kitchen sink became clogged over the weekend. For two days we couldn’t use it. After spending what seemed like hours plunging it, pouring boiling water down the drain, and trying to fix the problem with a baking soda and vinegar solution, we called the plumber. Turns out the problem wasn’t a simple clog, but our 100-year-old pipe that had corroded and leaked beneath our basement floor. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but the long and short of it is this:  It’s now fixed.

Before the sink debacle, I went to the Tower Groves Farmers Market for one last tomato fix. Our tomato plants have stopped producing. It’s the tail end of the season. So, I stocked up one last time. I grabbed a mix of heirlooms, red onion and carrots for this cream of tomato soup. I’ve been wanting to try it since Christmas, when I received the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It’s almost cruel to receive a cookbook in December with this recipe, knowing it will be months before tomatoes would be in season. Cream of tomato soup has been on my to-do list ever since.

And let me tell you, it is awesome. The soup is smooth with several layers of flavor. There’s the hint of basil and garlic. The sweetness of the carrots enhances the tomatoes.  The onion adds a subtle bite. It would be easy to skip the Parmesan croutons, but don’t cut this corner. They’re essential. They absorb the soup and they add crunch. Yum!

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 5 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
Julienned fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Parmesan Toasts (recipe follows) or croutons

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper, and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill (or push through a fine mesh sieve)  into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that’s left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or Parmesan toasts.

Serves 5 or 6.

Parmesan Toasts

1 French baguette
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Make as many slices as you like to serve with the soup.

Place the slices on a sheet pan lined with foil or parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a thick layer of grated Parmesan on the toasts and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the toasts are lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

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