Bacon and Tomato Soup
I realize that we are FAR from peak tomato season (it’s cold enough in my kitchen that the produce i forgot to put away last night has been enjoying a nice crisper treatment just being out on the counter), but recently I have rediscovered the simple deliciousness of the BLT. Well, to be honest, I have actually rediscovered the joy of the BT, because I am one of those freaks who loves lettuce in salads but positively detests it in a sandwich (it’s usually sort of limp, and let’s face it, it is really just distracting my taste buds from the bacon). But I digress…the point is, the combination of tomatoes and bacon is undeniably delicious.
This is why the concept of Bacon and Tomato soup seemed so thoroughly enticing when I came across a recipe for it in my new soup cookbook. I was a bit skeptical when I read that the soup was just as good as the sandwich, but I figured we had to give it a shot. Stephen doesn’t normally hold with tomatoes or tomato soup, but the bacon and wintry weather were enough to convince him to try it.
I was a bit daunted by the prospect of this soup at first because I have, until now, eschewed all recipes that involved peeling and seeding your own tomatoes, because it seemed terribly fussy and not worth it. But in the interest of creating a soup that would actually taste like a BLT I bit the bullet, and I actually discovered that it is not that difficult. I know this description sounds fussy, but just do it and you won’t regret it: all you do is pop them in boiling water for 15-20 seconds, then refresh them under cold water, and the skins will (mostly) peel right off. Then cut them in half and use your fingers to wash the seeds out under a stream of water. Then chop and you’re done! See? it’s not so bad!
So, the golden question of course is whether the soup turned out just as good as the sandwich. Quite honestly, I have to say that while it was a delicious soup, I don’t know if it can really replace a good BLT. The sandwich itself is just too good. But for me, it definitely replaces regular tomato soup (I mean, why not add bacon?), and we found it to be a lovely antidote to a chilly night. Plus, it took only about an hour, which is pretty reasonable for a homemade soup. I’ve adapted it here to serve 3, but you can easily double it or play with the proportions if you’re serving a crowd. Enjoy it with some crusty bread or toast (or, if you could get your hands on some cracked pepper and olive oil triscuits,and some cheese!
Bacon and Tomato Soup
Adapted from Bernard Clayton’s The Complete Book of Soups and Stews
Serves 3 as a main course with bread, 4 as a starter
1.5 lb fresh tomatoes
1 small onion
1-2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 T butter
a few pinches fresh thyme, or 1/2 t dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock
generous dose of freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste (depending on the saltiness of your bacon)
optional: drizzle of cream or dollop of sour cream, to finish
Start by prepping your tomatoes. Fill your will-be soup pot with water and bring to a boil, then drop tomatoes in for 15-20 seconds. Drain into a colander, and refresh tomatoes with cold water. Then remove skins–it may help to pierce them with a knife to get it started, but then they should peel right off. Cut tomatoes in half, then flush out the seeds under a stream of water with your fingers. Then chop roughly. Chop bacon and onions as well.
Return your soup pot to the stove over medium heat, and saute bacon and onions in butter until onions are softened and just starting to color and bacon is cooked. Then toss in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and saute until tomatoes release their juices and are starting to break down, about 5-6 minutes.
Add chicken stock, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer soup for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, pull out the bay leaf, and pour into your food processor or blender and process until as smooth as you like (beware, if you’ve never put something so liquidy in your processor, you may discover some secret leaky spots where pulsing soup can escape at high velocity…not, ahem, that that happened to me or anything).
Ladle or pour into bowls, and garnish with a little drizzle or dollop of cream or sour cream. Serve with toast or crusty bread, and some cheese if you like!