Tomato Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

Except for those made with the best of late-summer tomatoes, many tomato soups are simply not tomatoey enough. One way to circumvent this problem is to add tomato paste; it adds the depth that even good fresh tomatoes sometimes lack. If there are no good tomatoes around which is the case about nine months of the year use good-quality canned tomatoes.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 large onion, sliced

1 carrot, diced Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cups peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped tomato (canned are fine; include their juice)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves

2 to 3 cups vegetable stock, preferably warmed, tomato water, or water, or more as needed

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Minced fresh parsley or basil leaves for garnish (optional)

01 Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan or casserole over medium heat. When hot, add the tomato paste and let it cook for a minute, then add the onion and carrot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

02 Add the tomato and the herb and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato pieces break up, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the stock, stir, and taste. (You may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.) Adjust the seasoning; if the soup is flat tasting, stir in the sugar. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more stock or water. Garnish and serve.

Variations

Pure Tomato Soup. The stuff of your childhood, or close to it: Increase the tomato to 4 cups and reduce the stock to 1 cup. When the soup is done, pure it carefully in a blender or with an immersion blender or pass it through a food mill. Reheat, garnish, and serve, preferably with Croutons.

Cream of Tomato Soup. Substitute butter for olive oil and use the proportions in the preceding variation, substituting 1 cup cream or half-and-half (or alternative milk) for the stock, added just before pureing. No longer vegan, of course.