Soupe froide de tomates

cold tomato soup2

Chilled tomato soup

This delightful summer soup may be served cold — or hot. Choose the ripest, reddest, freshest tomatoes available, preferably from a farmers’ market.

What makes this recipe so easy is that peeling the tomatoes is unnecessary.  You may need to add more salt than the quantity given below, but wait to adjust the seasonings until the soup has been blended and the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar added. For a vegan version, substitute coconut cream for the crème fraîche.

1-1/2 pounds (700 g.) fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups (1 liter) water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1/2 lemon
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream
fresh herbs for garnish: basil, dill, cilantro or a combination
extra crème fraîche or sour cream for garnish

Rinse the tomatoes. Cut in half. Remove and discard the seeds and the hard area around the stem. Chop the halves into large cubes.

Peel and chop the onion. Heat the olive oil to sizzling in a soup pot. Add the onion and immediately turn the heat down to medium. Sauté 5 minutes, stirring, until the onion is wilted. Be careful not to let it brown.

Add the tomatoes and stir. Continue cooking another 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced to a pulp. Stir occasionally to ensure that the tomatoes do not stick.

Add 2 cups (1/2 liter) water and the salt, sugar and dried tarragon. Cook at a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add 1 cup (1/4 liter) more water. Using a hand-held pulser or counter-top blender, purée the soup until very smooth. Check the consistency and add up to 1 cup (1/4 liter) more water as desired. Transfer to a clean pot.

Squeeze the juice of the half-lemon into the soup through a sieve. Add the balsamic vinegar. Grind in some black pepper. Stir. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Add 1 tsp. cream and stir. Taste again.

If serving cold, refrigerate for at least one hour. If serving hot, reheat gently.

Ladle into soup bowls. Snip the fresh herbs and sprinkle on top. Add a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream to each bowl. Serves 4.

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