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About Me

Phoenix, Arizona, United States
The most important thing in my life is my family. I love my dear husband and 4 wonderful children (ages 11 through 18). I am a stay-at-home mom (my dream job!). Some of my favorite things to do include cooking (and eating!), photography, reading, piano, flute, watching my favorite TV shows, swimming, traveling, and most recently...using the rip stick with my kids. I would love to attend culinary school someday & fit my love of photography in with that somehow. My dream vacation is Italy - something I was recently blessed to experience! I'd love to return and see more of that beautiful and DELICIOUS country! My days are usually full of running kids to and from activities - scouts, sports, music and church. Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe, but I absolutely LOVE my crazy life and the people I am lucky enough to share it with!

Friday, April 2, 2010

cream of fresh tomato soup (from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics)

serves 5 or 6

This is a great soup to make in September when there are still tons of vine-ripened tomatoes in the market and you've eaten your fill of tomato salads. I garnish the soup with spicy basil leaves and crunchy slices of French bread toasted with Parmesan cheese.

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
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black 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 I 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 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.

Note: There are several ways to puree a soup - in the food processor, in a blender - but for this soup, I prefer to use a food mill which strains out the skins and seeds but keeps all that full, rich tomato flavor. I finish each serving with a sprinkling of sea salt.

parmesan toasts
 makes at least 20 toasts

This is a great way to use up leftover or frozen French bread. The toasts can be made a few hours in advance and can be recrisped for a few minutes in a warm oven.

1 French baguette
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (For this recipe, the Parmesan is best grated on a box grater)

Preheat the 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.

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