Recipe: Heirloom Tomato & Bread Soup with Basil
As summer starts to fade, there’s no reason to say goodbye to delicious summer produce just yet. This recipe for tomato soup is filled with the intense flavor of sun-ripened tomatoes and a hint of basil.
The secret is to use tomato in two forms: slow-roasted cherry tomatoes and peeled and seeded fresh heirloom tomatoes. The slow-roasted tomatoes give the soup a deep, rich roundness of flavor, while the fresh heirloom tomatoes give it the brightness of the best summer cooking.
The whole thing comes together quickly with just a couple of dishes, and makes a colorful and seasonal dinner that’s versatile enough to enjoy hot or cold. Either way, we like to serve it with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and a few slices of grilled bread.
Heirloom Tomato & Bread Soup with Basil
1 lb heirloom cherry tomatoes (use a mix of colors)
2½ lb large heirloom tomatoes (use a mixture of yellow and red)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
½ bunch basil leaves (reserve a few leaves for a garnish)
1 cup of water
4 oz sourdough bread, crusts removed cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a large nonreactive (either glass, ceramic, or stainless steel) bowl, season the cherry tomatoes with salt, pepper, and about ½ cup of the olive oil. The tomatoes should glisten with the oil.
Transfer the tomatoes to a rimmed baking sheet, making sure to pour all the oil from the bowl in with them. Roast the tomatoes in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven. The tomatoes should be shriveled but not burnt, with spots of caramelization on the pan. Set aside till cool enough to handle. Then chop roughly and reserve in a nonreactive bowl along with the pan juices.
Prepare a large bowl filled with ice and water for blanching the tomatoes.
Using a very sharp knife, cut a shallow X in the bottom of each of the larger tomatoes. Using a spider or a strainer, drop them into a pot of boiling water. Let them boil for just ten seconds, until you see the skin at the X beginning to peel. Remove them from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the ice water bath. Discard the peels or save for another use.
Cut the tomatoes in half and, holding each half over a medium bowl, gently squeeze out the seeds and the juice. Chop the cut and peeled tomatoes into large chunks. Strain the juice and add to the cut tomatoes. Discard the seeds.
In a medium saucepan heat a cup of the remaining olive oil over low heat till just beginning to shimmer. Add the garlic and basil cook gently, making sure that the garlic doesn’t color.
Add the large pieces of tomato to the pan and 1 cup of water and continue cooking on low heat for another 20 minutes or so, crushing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
Add the roasted cherry tomatoes and bring back to a simmer. Adjust the consistency of the soup if needed by adding a little water to the pan so that the mixture is a pourable consistency. Keep in mind that the bread will absorb some liquid when it is added.
Add the bread cubes, stir well, turn off the heat and let the soup rest for 30 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
This soup can be served hot or cold. If serving cold, make sure to remove from the fridge at least 20 minutes before you plan on eating, to allow the chill to come off the soup and to let the flavors bloom.
Garnish with roughly torn basil leaves, fresh cherry tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil.
We recommend serving it with some crusty slices of grilled sourdough bread.