Here's a quick-to-prepare, grown up tomato soup for sophisticated tastes. It's at its best when made with vine-ripened tomatoes, which are available at farmers' markets. Serve the soup chilled on warm summer days.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped carrots
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup minced shallots
4 large tomatoes (about 2 ½ pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
3 cups tomato juice (two 11 ½ fluid ounce cans)
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Dash of salt, or to taste
Dollops of chevre cheese or freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes. Add the shallots; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are tender, about 1 more minute.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato juice, dried basil and thyme (if using), sugar, bay leaf, pepper, and salt. Stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil; cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
Transfer the mixture in 2 batches to a blender; blend until smooth. If you prefer a chunky soup, blend only half of the soup mixture.
Stir in the fresh basil and thyme (if using). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Reheat the soup, if necessary.
Serve piping hot, each serving topped with chevre or Parmesan cheese that will melt into the soup. Or refrigerate and serve later, chilled.
This soup will keep for up to 3 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. Reheat or serve chilled.
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