A combination of bacon and smoked paprika gives this tomato soup a strong profile that goes perfectly with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Go with the sweet pimentón for a rich taste with little heat, or try the hot for a spicier kick in the soup.
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 thick strips bacon (about 3 oz.), thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. sweet or hot pimentón (smoked paprika)
One 28-oz. can whole tomatoes and their juices (3 cups) (preferably San Marzano)
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
2 Tbs. heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:Put the oil in a large saucepan, add the bacon, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon renders most of its fat, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; let drain and cool, and then coarsely chop. Add the onion and 1/2 tsp. salt to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onion softens and starts to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, 2 tsp. thyme, and the pimentón, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and the flavors meld, about 15 to 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a regular blender, purée the soup. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the cream, and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, ladle the soup into serving bowls and serve sprinkled with the bacon pieces and the remaining thyme.
What better partner for tomato soup than a Classic Grilled Cheese? Or to mix it up a little, try a Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich with Tapenade.
Susie Middleton is editor at large for Fine Cooking magazine.
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