Tomatoes, Lane County Farmers' Market, August 2006. Photo by Moi.
Tomatoes are my favorite.food.ever. Hands down, no question. We're just a week or two away from the beginning of my favorite time of year, heirloom tomato season! In celebration, I'm keeping my eye out for ways to use these beauties. Soup isn't the most summery thing, but I like it any time of year, and this looked too good to ignore. Here's the recipe:
For the soup:
12 large (about 4 pounds) tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
12 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, plus few leaves torn for garnish
2 cups cold water
For the bruschetta:
1 loaf country-style bread
Extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Prepare the tomatoes. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the oil, the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper, to taste. Spread the tomatoes out on a non-reactive baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until very dark in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a bit.
Prepare the bruschetta. Cut the bread crosswise into slices about 1-inch thick (you will need 8 slices). Lightly brush the slices on both sides with oil and season with salt. Place the slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until the bruschetta are golden brown and just beginning to crisp, about 6 minutes.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, the onions, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are very soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the 2 cups basil leaves and saute with the onions for about 1 minute.
Add the roasted tomatoes and water to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Puree the tomato mixture in a blender. Start the motor at a slow speed and increase gradually. Alternatively you can use an immersion blender right in the pot. The mixture should be very smooth. You should have about 8 cups. You can prepare the soup to this point and refrigerate it. When ready to serve, pour the soup into a medium saucepan and bring it to a slow simmer over medium heat.
Serve the soup. Place 1 bruschetta in the center of each shallow soup bowl. Pour the soup around each bruschetta. Garnish with torn basil leaves.
I'll let you know how it goes!