We have so many tomatoes from our recent garden cleanup that we've had to divide them among different bus tubs that are now crowding our kitchen. There's a tub of ripening tomatoes, a tub of green tomatoes (rapidly being made into preserves) and a big bowl of Roma tomatoes destined for pasta sauce and canning.
With one eye on the ripe tomatoes, my wife found this recipe for a smoky tomato soup in the September issue of Food and Wine. The smoky flavor comes from Spanish paprika, or "pimenton de la Vera." She had to travel some miles to the local Balducci's to find it, but it was worth the trip. With generous slices of Gruyere toast on the side, this soup makes a meal. Even our daughter loved it, which is saying quite a lot these days.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
3 1/2 pounds tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup water
1 thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
eight slices baguette, cut on an angle
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
Melt butter and olive oil in a heavy soup pot. Add onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until tender, about 8 minutes. Add paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, water, thyme and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper and bring tomato mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until tomatoes break down, about 15 minutes. Discard thyme sprig and bay leaf.
Puree soup in a blender until smooth. Strain soup back into soup pot, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. (This may take some time, but don't skimp on the effort as it will result in a luxuriously smooth soup.) Stir in cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat broiler. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and broil until lightly toasted on both sides. Top toasts with Gruyere and broil another 30 seconds, or until the cheese is bubbly. Ladle soup into hot bowls and serve with cheese toasts.