It seems cruel that by the time crisp days arrive, the days when we most long for that easy, favorite cardigan in the catalogue of soups — comforting, rich tomato soup — actual tomatoes are gone from the farmers market. We turn by necessity to canned tomatoes instead, and round them out with a healthy dose of dairy.
But summer, with its sticky, fragrant evenings and tomato plants hanging heavy with fruit, calls for a tomato soup of its own. When you’ve had your fill of juicy Caprese salads, and your garden’s tomato harvest is lining your countertop like storm clouds on the horizon, this is the recipe to make. It uses fresh tomatoes and fresh basil — both in high supply at this time of year — and has just 3 additional ingredients (yellow onion, garlic, and olive oil). It’s also easy as it gets to make, and fast; it is summertime, after all.
When we count ingredients, we don’t usually count salt, pepper, or cooking oil. But the olive oil plays a starring role in this recipe. In addition to what you’ll use to soften the onions and garlic, you’ll drizzle some in at the end of cooking while you purée the soup. This technique, borrowed from gazpacho recipes, emulsifies the oil into the mixture, giving the soup a lush but still light texture — no dairy (or roux, sometimes used to make a soup velvety) required. Use an olive oil you love; you’ll definitely taste it here.
Prepping Your Tomatoes for Fresh Tomato Soup
Frankly, I can never be bothered to skin and seed tomatoes, and so this recipe doesn’t ask you to. (Some say there’s a superior texture if you do skin and seed, which requires a careful series of blanching and straining operations, but I don’t find there to be much of a difference, particularly because this soup will be puréed anyway.) All you have to do is roughly chop the tomatoes — firm, fleshy romas and on-the-vine varieties are best here, as that flesh makes up most of the soup’s body — and add them to the pot with the softened aromatics. As they soften, they’ll release enough liquid that you won’t have to add stock, which means you’re dealing with pure, fresh tomato flavor.
Tomato Basil Soup
large yellow onion
- 3 large cloves
- 1/4 cup
plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 1/2 pounds
roma or tomatoes on the vine
- 1 teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper
large fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
Dice 1 large yellow onion and mince 3 large garlic cloves.
Heat 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and aromatic, 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, quarter the tomatoes, then cut each piece in half. (No need to seed, skin, or remove the cores; you should have about 8 cups chopped tomatoes.)
Add the tomatoes to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have softened, broken apart, and started to go orange-y in color, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 10 large basil leaves, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine and let sit 5 minutes.
Use an immersion or standard blender to purée the soup, slowly drizzling in 2 tablespoons olive oil while blending, until smooth or desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot, topped with torn basil leaves and more black pepper.
Make ahead: This soup can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, or frozen up to 3 months.
Blending options: An immersion blender is the easiest way to purée this soup, but a standard blender works just as well — and even a food processor can do the trick in a pinch! If using a blender or a food processor, work in batches if needed and make sure the feed hole or tube is open while blending so that steam can escape — puréeing a hot liquid could result in a messy (not to mention dangerous!) explosion.
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