Tomato Soup, French Laundry-Style

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/confit-byaldi-aka-disneys-ratatouille/
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/corn-puree-french-laundry-style-and-chinese-crab-corn-soup/

My wife loves tomatoes.  So I thought I might surprise her with a tomato soup. But how to make a good tomato soup (having never made one before)?  A commentary from the Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook (p. 31) suggested a good way to think about it – “…the single idea is to intensify the flavor and color of the main ingredient.  One spoonful of carrot soup should deliver the flavor of several carrots…”. As it would turn out, I found an online version of the carrot soup recipe at Saveur –

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Chilled-Carrot-Soup-with-Fines-Herbes-Mousse

Noticing how Chef Keller was flavoring the carrots, I decided to refer to Jody Adam’s In The Hands Of A Chef and used her Fresh Tomato Soup With Seared Eggplant Sandwiches recipe as a guide. The online recipe can be found here –

http://books.google.com/books?id=wXfmywiyGmwC&lpg=PA42&ots=hRu-lqphFG&dq=%22Jody%20Adams%22%20%22Fresh%20Tomato%20Soup%22&pg=PA42#v=onepage&q&f=false

My ingredient list would be:

2 1/4 pounds of tomatoes (not the plum tomatoes as mentioned in the Jody Adam’s recipe)
1 medium yellow onion finely diced (~10.5 oz)
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 x 1 1/4 cups of tomato juice (Knudsen’s)
1 teaspoon of 4:1 salt/pepper mix
1/4 cup cleaned basil leaves finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup of fresh chopped basil

Diced onion for the soup

2 grated cloves of garlic

To begin, I blanched and peeled the tomatoes of their skins, much like I did when I was preparing the

Blanched, peeled tomatoes

confit byaldi last September.   Once the tomatoes got peeled, I quartered each of them and set them aside.

Tomatoes chopped up and ready to be cooked down

To a hot stock pot, I added a little olive oil and sweated the garlic and onions down for about 8

Cooking down the garlic and onions in a little bit of olive oil on medium heat

minutes and then added in the tomatoes and 1 1/4 cups of tomato juice (~46 oz).   The stock pot was

1 1/4 cups (10 oz) of tomato juice

brought up to a boil and then reduced to about 25-30% max power to simmer for about 1 hr – 1 hr 15

Cooking down the tomatoes with the garlic and onions

minutes, periodically giving it a stir.

After about an hour, the liquid hadn’t quite evaporated away but the tomatoes had broken down very nicely, so I made a decision to go ahead and load the whole thing into my big food processor

Food processor puree of garlic tomato and onions, ready for the first straining

with the second 10 oz of tomato juice and puree it.  After I pureed it, I strained the mixture back into the stock pot (that I made sure to clean before reusing it) and added the chopped basil to cook to simmer for about 5 minutes.   I restrained the mixture and that came to about 3 cups!

Straining out the simmered basil from the tomatoes

after basil was strained out and ready for final seasoning and cream

The final strained mixture went into a smaller pot and seasoned  the 1 teaspoon of salt/pepper mix

Seasoning the soup with 1 teaspoon of 4:1 salt/pepper mix

and then I slowly incorporated the heavy cream and brought the soup back up to a simmer.

to finish the soup with 1/2 cup of heavy cream

Given the sharpness of the soup, I’m sort of glad I added the cream – it certainly added body, texture, but more importantly, I think it did a good job of muting the sharpness and rounding out the flavor.  If I did this again, I might actually add another 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the heavy cream.

Soup, finished with the cream

My wife and I each had a bowl of the soup to accompany the Sunday night dinner and she marveled at how intense the tomato flavor was, not to mention the fact we could smell the basil/tomato outside our apartment door.  She made a point of saving the rest of the soup for lunch the following day; and I would have the soup with lunch with a grilled cheese sandwich at the office the next day as well.

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