Serves: Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 2 large sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 8 medium tomatoes (about 2 pounds total), peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock, top-quality chicken broth or vegetable stock.
- 3 cloves garlic, roasted
- 1 large yellow and 2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Chile Cream:
- 1 cup lightly packed spinach leaves, rinsed, dried, and tough stems removed
- ⅓ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1 Anaheim chile, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Procedures:While this soup can be made any time of year, it will be at its very best in late summer when tomatoes are bursting with flavor. The soup can be either a first course or a main course of a light meal. For a lighter version, use half-and-half or whole milk instead of the cream. I often add a few minced chives and a small squeeze of lime juice just before serving.
- For the chile cream, bring a small pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the spinach leaves and cook for 15 to 30 seconds, until just wilted. Drain well and rinse under cold water to cool. Dry well on paper towels. Combine the spinach, crème fraîche, chile, garlic, and lime juice in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
- Tie together the parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth, secured with kitchen string.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and aromatic, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, and roasted garlic with a good pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the herb bundle to the pan and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and cream and simmer 25 minutes longer (the soup should not boil; decrease the heat to medium-low if needed).
- Discard the herb packet and allow the soup to cool slightly. Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth, returning the soup to the pot. Stir in the lemon juice and gently reheat the soup over medium-low heat. Taste the soup for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper to taste.
- Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and top with dollops of the chile cream.