Posted by: timscooking | August 16, 2010

Fresh Tomato Soup with Mascarpone and Tarragon

The tomatoes are coming! The tomatoes are coming! That’s the buzz all over southern Michigan as tomato season is in full swing. With the abundance of fruit at the market, I was able to pick up a whole peck (about 15 pounds) of tomatoes for $4. I’ve also gotten dozens of “gifts” of tomatoes from friends and friends of friends who just can’t use all of the tomatoes they’ve grown. Reminds me of my father-in-law, who would put in 8-10 tomato plants in his yard in Detroit which would invariably produce over a hundred pounds of tomatoes, more than he and my mother-in-law could eat in a year.

I do plan on making and freezing tomato sauce this year, along with eating as many fresh as possible. My wife loves tomatoes on toasted bagels with cream cheese and I’m sure that we’ll be having more than one BLT in the coming days for lunch or dinner.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that in researching some tomato recipes I had come across a tomato galette, essentially a simple tomato pie and at that time I also saw a number of tomato soup recipes. There were the basic creamy tomato soups which are great in the fall and winter and of course, gazpacho, the ubiquitous chilled Spanish soup that is on many recipe websites and in current food magazines, but I was looking for something that was a bit more versatile and came up with this recipe that you can use as a basis for countless variations throughout the fresh tomato season and could even adapt using canned plum tomatoes this winter.

The base is peeled, seeded tomatoes, onion, garlic, and tomato juice. From that, you can add whatever you want, depending on whether you want a savory or sweet flavor profile. This basic recipe can also be served hot, chilled, or at room temperature. I used mascarpone cheese, a sweet Italian cream cheese, and tarragon which has a distinctive anise flavor, but you could just as easily use sour cream and basil or chives. If you leaning more to a savory flavor, I would swap the sweet vermouth for a dry white wine or dry vermouth in the recipe.

Experiment with various flavor combinations and you can enjoy tomato soup throughout the year.

Ingredients:

  • • 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin, plus more for drizzling
  • • 1 large Spanish onion, minced (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • • 6 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (6-7 large, see Note)
  •   ½ cup sweet vermouth ( I use Martini&Rossi Rosso)
  • • 2 cups tomato juice
  • • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • • ½  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • • Mascarpone cheese, for garnish
  • • Leaves from 4 sprigs tarragon, torn, for garnish (1 tablespoon)

Directions:

Combine the oil, onion and garlic in a large pot over low to medium-low heat; cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and slightly browned on the edges.

Add the vermouth and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato juice, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use an immersion blender and puree some of the chopped tomatoes or remove about 3 cups of the soup and puree in your kitchen blender. Be sure to remove the center cap and hold a towel over the hole to allow the steam to escape.

Divide among individual bowls; place a tablespoon-size dollop of mascarpone on the center of each portion, then sprinkle with tarragon, drizzle with oil and serve immediately. Alternatively, let the ungarnished soup cool to room temperature and serve, or transfer it to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; serve cold.

NOTE: To peel tomatoes, use a sharp knife to score a shallow “X” on the bottom of each one. Place in a pot of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pot and immerse in ice water bath. When cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the loosened skins. Cut into wedges and use your thumb to remove seeds. Give the wedges a rough chop.

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