Serves: Makes 4 servings
- 3 lbs. ripe tomatoes cored and coarsely chopped, about 6 cups, or two 28-oz. cans Italian plum juices with juices
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped
- ½cup peeled, chopped carrot
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Procedures:This silken tomato soup—the elegant texture the result of pushing the soup through a chinois—carries a haunting hint of saffron and a pleasant hit of black pepper. Ideally, this soup is made at the height of summer when fresh tomatoes are at their best, but canned tomatoes can be substituted.
- In a 6-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, combine the olive oil, leek, carrot, and garlic, place over medium heat, and heat, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to sizzle. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened but not browned.
- Meanwhile, put the saffron threads in a small, dry skillet, place over very low heat, and warm for about 1 minute. remove from the heat.
- When the vegetables are ready, add ½ teaspoon of the heated saffron threads to the pan, and reserve the remaining saffron in the skillet for the garnish. heat the saffron in the vegetables, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, broth, and salt, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with the side of the spoon. Add the pepper and then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
- While the soup is cooking, make the saffron cream garnish: Add ½ cup of the cream to the saffron remaining in the skillet, place over low heat, and heat, stirring, until the cream is hot. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand until ready to serve.
- Remove the soup from the heat and let cool for about 20 minutes. Working in batches, ladle the soup into a blender and process until smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot.
- Set a fine-mesh chinois or a fine-mesh strainer overa large, deep bowl (or a 2-quart measuring cup with a spout if using a strainer). ladle the soup into the chinois or strainer. let stand about 45 minutes. Press on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Scrape the puree from the outside of the strainer or chinois into the broth. When the solids inside the chinois are pressed dry, discard them. rinse out the pot and return the soup to it. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup of cream to the soup, stirring gently with a flat whisk until blended. reheat, whisking gently, over low heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Do not allow to boil. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into warmed soup plates.
- Strain the saffron through a fine-mesh strainer and drizzle a scant tablespoon of the saffron cream into each bowl of soup. Serve at once.