Peyton, home from school the other day, was banging around the kitchen at lunchtime looking for a way to enhance her standard lunch fare, a classic grilled cheese. She was looking for something to elevate the dish to something more befitting the special occasion that is a SNOW DAY. Her first inclination was to make a croque monsiuer (a brilliant idea for a future post), but as we didn’t have any ham in the house, decided instead to whip up some tomato soup as an accompaniment.
The girl was in luck, not only did we have all the ingredients needed to make a delicious tomato soup from scratch, but I had recently stumbled across this recipe and was dying to give it a try. In our studied opinion, there are few things more perfectly matched than a gooey grilled cheese sandwich and a creamy bowl of tomato soup. I don’t know about you, but the combo was one of my favorites as a kid, ranking right up there with a PB&J with potato chips!
As a youngster, I remember my mom serving us Campbell’s tomato soup reconstituted with milk (not water, thank you very much). Just before serving, she’d float a large pat of butter in the middle of the soup, and my game would be to let it melt entirely so that I could swirl it into a cool design before devouring the bowl…YUM! Now, as much as I loved my childhood Campbell’s, it doesn’t come close to the smoky goodness of this soup. There is a creaminess to it, but it has a much cleaner and more pronounced tomato flavor, and the smoke introduced from the pimentón and the bacon really makes the soup special. Pimentón, for those of you that haven’t had the pleasure, is a Spanish smoked paprika. Unlike the more commonly found Hungarian paprika, pimentón is made in the La Vera Valley in Spain, with chilies that have been smoked over smoldering oak logs. It is such a great addition to so many dishes, I highly recommend you search some out.
So the next time you have a “snow day hankerin'” for a bowl of tomato soup, leave the can opener in the drawer, grab one of your kids, and take a few minutes with them to make this delicious soup from scratch, they’ll love you for it.
Cheers – Steve
- 1 tablespoon EVOO
- 3 thick strips of bacon, thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon pimentón (smoked paprika)
- 1 28 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes with their juices
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Put the oil in a large saucepan, add the bacon and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon renders most of its fat, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; let drain and cool, then coarsely chop. Add the onion and 1/2 teasoon of salt to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onion softens and starts to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, 2 teaspoon of the thyme, and the pimentón, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, or working in batches in a regular blender, purée the soup. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the cream, and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, ladle the soup into warmed serving bowls, and serve sprinkled with bacon pieces and the remaining fresh thyme.