Ya know, I honestly don't like tomato soup. Pureed tomatoes watered down with milk just doesn't do it for me. But when I saw this recipe, I just had to try it. The creamy goat cheese, spicy red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, and no milk sold me. I was a little scared about peeling tomatoes, but I found a great tutorial and found that it really wasn't as difficult as I thought. This soup is rich and decadent, light, creamy, full of flavor and would be just as good with a grilled cheese as it would as a starter for more elegant fare. Oh, and my #1 guinea pig (aka my husband)? He loved it and even made a surprise stop at home over lunch for a bowl of leftovers rather than the brown bag lunch he'd packed this morning! To serve on its own as a meal, try making Caramelized Red Onion Tarts to go alongside.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 garden-ripe tomatoes (4 pounds), peeled
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste
1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus shredded basil for garnish
4 ounces herbed goat cheese crumbles
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add the onions and cook and stir for about 10 minutes, until soft and light brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
Core and roughly chop the tomatoes and add, along with their juices, to the onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes and bring the soup to a low boil. Reduce the heat and summer 20-30 minutes, until the tomatoes break down and the flavors meld.
Remove the soup from the heat, remove and discard the bay leaves, and stir in the basil and goat cheese. Process the soup in batches as required in a food processor or blender (be careful as liquids expand when hot and blended). Return soup to saucepan. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
Serve hot, with shredded basil sprinkled on top as a garnish, if desired.
Recipe adapted from Southern Kitchen by Sara Foster.