French in a Flash: Cold Tomato and Tarragon Soup Recipe

French in a Flash: Cold Tomato and Tarragon Soup Recipe

Tarragon is the je ne sais quoi in the background of this cold summer soup. [Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

We, proud Americans, know that peanut butter belongs with jelly. A perfect pair. A dynamic duo. But in France, tomato and tarragon are an incontestable couple.

I have featured the two together before, in an adaptation of the tomato and tarragon chicken I learned in Paris. But summertime screams for the naturally gifted ingredients to strut their stuff raw and unadulterated, and nowhere is that exemplified better than in the kind of Goblin Market of fruits and squashes and herbs that overflow even the most usual of supermarkets. Summer tomatoes, sweet and plump and incomparable in their fleshy delicacy, should throw basil over for a summertime fling. Tarragon is anise-sweet like fennel, fragrant like basil, fresh like parsley or chervil. Like the balance in a tomato, it is unassumingly delicate and unique. You should see them together—and taste them. They're the perfect pair!

  • Yield:6


  • 2 1/2 pounds vine tomatoes, seeded and in chunks
  • 1 Vidalia onion, in chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and in chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves (from approximately 2 large stems), plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup baguette crumbs, or fresh bread crumbs
  • 4 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese, for serving


  1. 1.

    In a large blender, place all the ingredients EXCEPT the bread crumbs and the goat cheese. Blend everything together until almost completely smooth. Taste, and season well with salt and pepper.

  2. 2.

    Add the breadcrumbs to the blender, and just whiz to incorporate. To make baguette crumbs, take the stale butts of old baguettes and smash them in a food processor. I always keep a baggie of these in my freezer, but any fresh bread crumbs will do. Just avoid heavily flavored breads like rye.

  3. 3.

    Decant the soup into a pitcher or punch bowl, and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve in mugs or bowls with some crumbles of fresh goat cheese and whole tarragon leaves, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.