Chilled Tomato Soup With Bacon Croutons

Chilled Tomato Soup With Bacon Croutons

Serves 10


2 1/2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, divided

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Large pinch red chili flakes

Pinch fennel seeds

Leaves from 1 small bunch (about 3/4 ounce) basil

Leaves from 2 sprigs (about 1/4 ounce) tarragon

Leaves from 2 sprigs (about 1/4 ounce) dill 6 cups chopped ripe tomatoes,

about 2 pounds

2 cups good-quality chicken broth, or homemade light chicken stock

or vegetable stock

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar


Croutons with Bacon-Blue

Cheese Crumble (recipe follows)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, red chili flakes and fennel seeds and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is softened slightly and the garlic is aromatic. Add the herbs and cook 30 seconds longer, until wilted. Cool slightly and place in a blender with the tomatoes, broth or stock, salt, a couple of grinds of pepper and the sherry vinegar. Blend on high speed for 1 minute, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Chill at least 2 hours before serving; adjust seasoning. To serve, ladle a generous 1/2 cup of soup into each of 10 bowls. Divide the croutons among the bowls and sprinkle with the bacon and blue cheese mixture. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and serve.

croutons with bacon-blue

cheese crumble

8 ounces sourdough bread

( 1/2 of a 1-pound loaf)

6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 shallots, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

Large pinch salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces blue cheese*

2 tablespoons chopped chives

2 tablespoons minced basil

Remove the crust from the bread, cut into 1/3-inch cubes and set aside. Place the bacon in a single layer in a medium sauté pan and slowly cook over medium-low heat until almost crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Drain the bacon fat into another large sauté pan, add the olive oil to the bacon fat, and cook over medium heat. Add the cubed bread and sauté until it's golden brown on all sides. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and set aside. Just before serving, add the crumbled blue cheese and herbs to the bacon and toss to combine.

*Stephanie Valentine recommends Point Reyes Blue.