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Smoked Tomato Vellutata

This twist on cream of tomato soup is a sophisticated version that elevates an old favorite to an elegant indulgence. Indeed, it is velvety smooth, as its namesake “vellutata” indicates. Start with high-quality canned tomatoes in their own juice, add sautéed onions and blend in cream for richness. It tastes delicious with basil-goat cheese crostini.

Ingredients

Vellutata:

  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 2 T (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 C (151 g) onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 C (322 g) plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 T (17 g) tomato paste
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 12 C (118 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 14-oz (397-g) can whole plum tomatoes, San Marzano brand preferred
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1 qt (946 ml) cold water
  • 2 T (25 g) light brown sugar
  • 23 C (22 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) liquid smoke

Basil Goat Cheese Crostini:

  • 8 baguette slices
  • 2 T (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz (113 g) fresh chèvre, room temperature
  • 12 C (12 g) basil leaves, loosely packed
  • Directions

    Vellutata: Tie basil, peppercorns, thyme and parsley in cheesecloth. Cook onion with salt in oil in a large pot over medium low heat, stirring often, until limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, increase to medium and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes have given up most of their liquid and bottom of pot is nearly dry. Stir in tomato paste and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in white wine and cook until almost dry. Add canned tomatoes and all their liquid, chili flakes and cheesecloth with herbs. Cover with cold water; bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until liquid reduced by ⅓. Remove from heat; discard cheesecloth. Stir in brown sugar, cream and liquid smoke. In a blender, process soup in batches until smooth; season to taste with salt. Plate immediately or chill and reheat; serve with crostini.

    Remove the mixture from the heat and discard the sachet. Transfer the tomato mixture to the jar of a blender and add brown sugar, heavy cream, and liquid smoke. Carefully process soup in the blender until completely smooth. Do this in batches if necessary to avoid the hot soup from escaping the blender. Season to taste with salt. This may be served immediately or cooled down and reheated as needed. Garnish with the basil-goat cheese crostini on the side and a splash of extra virgin olive oil to serve.

    Basil Goat Cheese Crostini: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Brush both sides of baguette slices with oil and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Blanch basil 15 seconds in boiling salted water; drain; pat dry, and add to chèvre in food processor; blend until smooth and spread on baguette.

    • Prep time: 20 minutes.
    • Cook time: 16 minutes.
    • Makes 6 servings.