Roasted Tomato Soup with Crispy Pancetta

      This soup is fantastic with Pesto Grilled Cheeses-or really any grilled cheese sandwich.

      2 medium yellow onions, diced
      6 plum tomatoes (2 1/2 lbs), halved
      1 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
      4 garlic cloves, minced
      1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (so taste)
      1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
      1 tbsp tomato paste
      1/3 cup basil, chopped (3/4 oz)
      4 slices bacon or pancetta
      Parmesan rind (optional)

      Makes 4-6 servings

      NOTE: If you are making this for a vegetarian, use a separate pan for frying the bacon, and make sure to use veggie stock instead of chicken.

      Preheat the oven to 350F. Lay the tomato halves on the pan cut side up and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Roast in the over for 40 minutes, until the tomatoes have begun to caramelize, but are not blackened.

      In a large Dutch Oven or stock pot, fry the bacon strips over medium-high heat until dark brown and crispy. Remove and let drain on a paper towel.

      Add the onions and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and saut over medium heat until translucent, scraping up any remaining drippings form the bacon. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, stock, and tomato paste. When the roasted tomatoes are finished, add to the pot. Simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes.

      Using whatever tools you have available, puree the soup. I prefer a food mill (otherwise known as a mouli, pictured above) or a ricer since it keeps the soup relatively textured, but a food processor, blender, or immersion blender work as well.

      Keep the soup warm on the stove, then serve.

      TIP: the soup can be made up to two days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. If you are going this route, wait until the day of to fry the bacon. To add a bit of flavor to the soup, add 1/2 tablespoons or so of the fat rendered to the soup when you reheat it.



      Offbeat News