This is one of my favorite dishes to make, especially in the summer. It is a recipe from Barbara Lynch’s beautiful Stir Cookbook. The soup gets better as the flavors meld, so I always double the recipe and we devour the leftovers. Although the crème fraîche is optional, I strongly recommend you use it. It is like a mild sour cream and makes the dish complete. You can make your own by adding a small amount of buttermilk to sour cream or heavy cream. Just a dollop goes a long way. The dish is paired with a caraway cheese toast in the cookbook. I usually make a simpler version of an open faced grilled cheese with turkey or proscuitto and serve a hearty green salad too.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
- 2 large cans plum tomatoes, about 28 ounces each
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 tablespoons crème fraîche (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 7-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups water and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Add the basil, season lightly with salt and pepper, and let cool briefly before pureeing the soup in a food processor or a blender, in batches if necessary. Pass the soup through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the solids with a ladle. (Save the pulp if you like; it’s great on crostini or baked eggplant.) Garnish with crème fraîche and serve.