Spicy Cream of Tomato and Bacon Soup

From Jennifer Berman

Serves 6

This soup seems so simple, but it was actually quite complex and layered, the flavor of the pancetta providing a really lovely smoky base. Jennifer says, “This is a rough estimate at best—for me, soup tends to be one of those things that doesn’t lend itself well to recipes.”

Ingredients

Two 28-oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
6 slices of good, thick cut bacon or pancetta
1 cup carrot (small dice)
1 cup onion (small dice)
½ cup celery (small dice)
½ cup garlic (minced)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried basil
2-3 cups chicken stock (hard to say how much ‘til you see the consistency of the soup)
1 cup 2% milk
½ cup sour cream (I used light sour cream and don’t think anyone would be able to tell the difference. Greek yoghurt would work as well)
chiffonade of fresh basil
garlic croutons or homemade crackers

Preparation

Fry the bacon to crispy, set aside to drain. Reserve bacon fat. Chop bacon (small dice).

Drain tomatoes well (reserve juice and set aside), spread on a baking sheet and roast in 450 degree oven approximately 10-15 minutes until dried.

In large pan, sauté onions in bacon fat and olive oil, after about 3 minutes, add garlic, after another 2 minutes, add carrot and celery and sauté until all vegetables soften.

In stock pot, heat remaining olive oil if needed (depends on how much how dry the veggies are at this point) and add in previously cooked vegetable mix and tomatoes, along with thyme, chili flakes and dried basil, cooking until all incorporated. Add in sugar, salt and pepper, chicken stock (2 cups at first, may add more to desired consistency and flavor) and reserved tomato juice and bring to a simmer.

Once heated through, using an immersion blender, puree to smooth consistency. For larger batches of the soup, a blender may be required to get the soup to a smooth consistency—or you can just go with a slightly chunkier soup).

Add in milk and sour cream and continuing pureeing. Add in bacon and bring up to a full simmer again, cook for 10 minutes, give or take.

Taste, add additional salt and pepper as need. Garnish with garlic crouton and chiffonade of fresh basil.

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