Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cheesy Tomato & Bread Soup

This is kind of like when you dunk a grilled cheese sandwich into your tomato soup. But the tomatoes are fresh (a must, thus a very summery recipe!), the bread is sourdough, and the cheese is Parmesan (I shudder to think what would happen to American cheese in this). A very thick soup results. Besides the wonderful taste, I also like the fact that this recipe uses Parmesan rinds. I usually have a bunch of these in my freezer, and they add richness to many soup recipes. Recipe adapted from Tom Valenti's Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Meals.

4 lbs. very rip beefsteak or Jersey tomatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch chunks
kosher salt, fresh pepper, sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1-2 stalks celery, finely diced
3-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
2 quarts vegetable or chicken broth
1-2 Parmesan rinds
1 large or 2 small loaves of day-old sourdough bread
4-8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
fresh lemon juice
basil oil or pesto (optional)

Thirty minutes before you want to start cooking, mix tomatoes with salt, pepper & a pinch of sugar; set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion & celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic towards the end. Stir in the tomato paste and another pinch of sugar, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and cheese rind(s), raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, season with salt & pepper, and bring to a boil again. Lower the heat and simmer until the tomatoes break down completely, about 40 minutes.

Remove and discard the cheese rind. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes [the original recipes calls for the crust to be cut off, but I usually leave most of it on since I like the texture it adds]. Add them to the tomatoes and stir to break down, cooking for about 15 minutes. Stir in the grated cheese, starting with a little and adding more until you get the consistency you like--too much and it can get a little gloppy, in my opinion. Douse with a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

I happen to have just made fresh pesto last night, but I'm conflicted about whether or not to use it--the tomatoey goodness is pretty spectacular all on its own! Your call...

Lots of tomatoes!

Lots of bread!

Lots of cheese!

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