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Smoky tomato bisque

Tomato soup is everyones favorite soup, it reigns supreme as a comfort food. Everyone grew up with tomato soup, made by mom or grandma, soft, warm and delicious. It is also one of the most commonly ordered soups at restaurants, and hence found almost everywhere.

This tomato soup is in a class by itself. Full of the flavors of fresh tomatoes that have been cooked down and concentrated, spiked with smoked and spicy paprika and nuanced with herbs, this soup is a treat. It is bold, beautifully scented and every person that has had this soup wants the recipe. This is one of the few soups I make a few times a year.

This is a wonderful cookbook that specializes in soups for all seasons. Deborah Madison is one of the first chefs to start the farm-to-table movement in the Bay Area and her recipes reflect her expertise with vegetables and fresh produce. I have a number of her wonderful cookbooks, each one a masterpiece.

For more wonderful soup recipes from this cookbook, click here.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon sweet paprika, preferably Spanish

1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika, preferably Spanish

1 slice bread, torn into pieces

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 lb tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste

1 tablespoon cream, per bowl

Parsley, minced, for garnish

Heat the oil in a stock pot on low heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté till the onions are soft, they should not have any color. Add the paprikas, bread, thyme, basil, salt and pepper and toss quickly. Be careful, the paprika burns very quickly.

Add the tomatoes and toss the mix well. Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the stock and sugar and stew the tomatoes with the lid closed for 40 minutes, checking the pot every 5 minutes or so to make sure the mix dos not dry out. If it is dry, add some more stock as needed. Careful, this is a thick tomato soup, so you do not want it too runny. The tomatoes will break down and form a sauce, similar to pasta sauce.

When the tomatoes are ready, take the mix off the heat and cool. Purée in a blender, or with a hand blender till very smooth. If you would like, I usually do, pass the mix through a fine-mesh strainer working the pulp with a spatula for a smooth soup. Taste and adjust paprika and salt. You should have a bold soup that is smoky and tangy and full of flavor. If the soup is too sour, adjust the flavor with another teaspoon or two of sugar to smooth out the flavors.

To serve, heat the soup and ladle into bowls. Add the tablespoon of cream and decorate if desired. Serve topped with parsley.

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