Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

One of my favorite things to order out is La Madeline's tomato-basil soup. Last week when I received my copy of Ina's new cookbook, Back to Basics, I knew this tomato soup was the first recipe of many that I wanted to try. This recipe also allowed me the opportunity to make my own homemade chicken stock which is something I wanted to check off my cooking goals list. And who doesn't like the smell of chicken soup cooking all day? The stock was really not hard to make and I think it did make a difference in the flavor of the soup over the usual canned stock. A bonus to making the chicken stock is at the end you have a perfectly tender chicken to chop up for chicken salad or other recipes that call for cooked chicken. Of course I'm going to tell you this soup was wonderful, its an Ina recipe after all! I followed Ina's directions and pureed it with my food mill and I really liked the texture it had. It was very reminiscent of La Madeline's soup. My husband really liked the peppery bite the soup had and thought the Parmesan toasts were the perfect finishing touch. The only change I made to the recipe was to use half and half instead of heavy cream. I would note that unlike other Ina recipes which generally yield large quantities this one only makes 5 servings. Also, I halved the chicken stock recipe and still had plenty left over to freeze.

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (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 (I used half-and-half)
Julienned fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Parmesan Toasts 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 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill 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.

Parmesan Toasts

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

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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 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.

Homemade Chicken Stock

3 (5 lb) roasting chickens
3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half (optional)
20 fresh parsley sprigs
15 fresh thyme sprigs
20 fresh dill sprigs
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a 16-20 quart stockpot. Add 7 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim any foma that comes to the surface. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours.

Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander, discarding the solids. Pack in quart containers and refrigerate. When the stock is cold, remove the surface fat and refrigerate again.

Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter 2008.

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Ooh this looks nice and cozy to eat :)