Dinner Tonight: Proven\u00e7al Tomato Soup with Ch\u00e8vre

I've long been on a search for a spectacular tomato soup recipe that doesn't achieve greatness by adding lots of heavy cream, the most common way to temper the acidity of tomatoes. I already love the variation using bread that I've already written about. But when I was flipping through The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper the other day, the book fell open to this recipe, and lightning struck. Nestled in the Provençal-perfumed broth (think basil, oregano, thyme, and fennel seeds) was a dollop of creamy goat cheese. Brilliant!

Sure, this soup would taste a lot better at the height of summer rather than the dead of winter (you could use fresh tomatoes instead of canned). But I really couldn't wait. Turns out, it's a skillfully flavored soup, with those classic spices plus an inspired addition of ground cinnamon and the herbal punch of dry vermouth. The chevre melts into the broth, adding a calming touch with that pleasant, familiar goat-cheese funk.

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Dinner Tonight: Provençal Tomato Soup with Chèvre

About This Recipe

Yield:4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons Provençal spice blend (or equal parts dried basil, thyme, oregano, and fennel seeds)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed by hand (or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese

Procedures

  1. 1

    Fill the bottom of a heavy soup pot (5 to 6 quarts) with olive oil. Over medium-high heat, cook the onions with a pinch of salt until golden, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often. In the meantime, lightly crush the spice mix to release the flavors in a small bowl. Add to the onions with garlic and cook until the aromas open, about 30 seconds.

  2. 2

    Stir in the tomato paste and continue stirring until no lumps remain. Add the vermouth and cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cook for two minutes, then add the broth. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

  3. 3

    Stir in the cinnamon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese.

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