I love Spring and Fall but I REALLY love Winter because it means more soups and stews, and everyone in my family loves comfort food meals.
It’s March 6th and snowing outside as if it were the dead of Winter. I’m actually glad because it gives me perfect inspiration to pull out the French Oven and make this gem!
2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, loosely chopped
10 large tomatoes/12 medium, tops sliced off then sliced in eighths
3 cloves garlic (just smashed, all gets pureed later)
2 (real) TBS brown sugar
½ C water or chicken broth (water makes for plenty of flavor still)
Lg. piece of Parmigiano Reggiano rind (brilliant use for it)
4 sprigs fresh thyme (or pinch to ½ tsp dried – not powdered)
Pinch ground coriander
¼ C coffee cream or half and half
2 Tbs butter
Grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano (must buy fresh – it looks costly but grates so beautifully that it really stretches and honestly, in wax paper, will last for 6 months- at least – in fridge)
Fresh chiffonade of basil
Heat oil over medium heat and add onions and smashed garlic. Begin to sweat and turn down heat accordingly, so as not to brown. Add some S & P at every step. Add tomatoes, sugar and water. Stir, add S & P and add piece of rind, thyme and coriander.
Let simmer for ½ hour at least (I prefer 1 hour minimum) and remove rind and thyme springs if used. S & P again.
Cool slightly and hand blend or use other blender to emulsify.
Strain through sieve to eliminate seeds and skin. Press with back of spatula to get all liquid to be used as soup. (Note: I might skip this next time by blanching the skin off and removing seeds by thumb prior to cooking). Far easier and feels like there is less tossing away.
Keep warm and finish as below unless serving later.
Reheat when serving, add butter and cream over low heat (I add some peeled and chopped shrimp that I pan fry in butter, at this step – and the pan juices). *See below
Plate, and garnish with parmesan and basil.
Another great garnish would be crisp, homemade, garlic croutons!
*Shrimp: I remove the tails of 5 large raw shrimp/prawns, halve/chop them and sautee them in olive oil, butter, and garlic right before serving. I stir them in at same time as cream/butter, along with their cooking juices. SUCH a rich tomato taste.
Important to add a little olive oil to butter to prevent browning the butter (unless you mean to!).