This year I didn’t have time to plant tomatoes (or any vegetable, truth be told) in my garden. Maybe I was reading or cleaning out my closet or possibly riding my bike, but somehow I missed prime planting time so I’m destined to pay $2.50 for a decent heirloom fruit if I want to make a Caprese salad. However, when a hankering for homemade tomato soup hit the other night I was overjoyed to find that I had everything I needed on hand thanks to the ready availability of excellent canned tomatoes. A special issue of Fine Cooking Simple Dinners (on newsstands now) provided the inspiration and this recipe. I suppose you could make it with 28 ounces of garden-tomatoes cut into chunks — and that would be phenomenal — but I assure you that the results using canned were terrific. The kind handyman who’s building us a new puppy fence couldn’t stop raving over the steaming cup, topped with crispy, salty bacon pieces, and my boys endorse it as a “must save” recipe. Enjoy!
SMOKY TOMATO-BACON SOUP
(From Fine Cooking Simple Dinners, Summer 2014)
Yields 4 cups
Note: I used sweet Hungarian paprika and recommend adding a bit more chicken broth if you prefer a thinner soup. As is, this recipe makes a very thick soup, perfect for sopping up with thick slices of sourdough bread.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 thick strips bacon (about 3 ounces), thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sweet or hot pimenton (smoked paprika)
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with their juices (3 cups)
2 cups homemade or lower-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used whole milk and it worked beautifully)
Freshly ground black pepper
Pour the oil in a large saucepan, add the bacon, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon renders most of its fat, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; let drain and cool, then coarsely chop. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onion softens and starts to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, 2 teaspoons of the thyme, and the pimenton and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a regular blender, puree the soup. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the cream, and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper if neeeded, ladle the soup into serving bowls, and serve sprinkled with the bacon pieces and the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme.