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Soups, Vegetarian

Fresh tomato soup

Fresh tomato soup
Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The best way to enjoy a ripe red (or yellow or orange or purple or green) tomato is to stand next to a vine overflowing with sun-warmed fruit, find one that almost falls into your hand, and savor it right ... Read more

Total time: 55 minutes | Makes 8 to 10 cups
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and minced
  • 1 stalk celery with leaves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fennel bulb
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
  • 3 pounds mixed ripe tomatoes, diced with juices reserved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon gin
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup cream, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 large basil leaves, sliced crosswise into thin ribbons, for garnish

Step 1In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, carrot, celery and fennel and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute until aromatic.

Step 2Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, along with the lemon juice, sugar, paprika, gin and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato liquid reduces and the mixture has thickened slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly.

Step 3Transfer the vegetables, in batches, to a blender jar and puree until smooth, then return to the pot. Add the broth, one cup at a time, until the soup reaches desired consistency, stirring to thoroughly combine.

Step 4Bring the soup to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the cream if desired and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and black pepper. Garnish each serving with basil.


Middle Eastern: Omit the cream and basil. Add one-fourth to one-half cup of cooked rice to each bowl. To serve, top with chopped mint and a dollop of plain yogurt.

Moroccan: Omit the cream and basil. Add 1 tablespoon each of fresh grated ginger and ground cinnamon when cooking the vegetables. To serve, top with chopped cilantro and diced Moroccan olives.

Latin American: Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin and 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano when cooking the vegetables. Substitute lime juice for the lemon juice. To serve, top the finished soup with 1 tablespoon of crumbled cotija or grated queso blanco, diced avocado and chopped cilantro.


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