Here are the two finest compliments a dish can get:

1. “I don’t really like _______, but I loved this!”

2. “I love ______ and this was the best version of it I’ve ever had!”

And when you get both compliments on the same dish? You know it’s truly a winner!

Yes, both the skeptics and the die-hards waxed poetic about this ambrosial tomato soup. Zack was a pro making his first chicken-stock-based vegetable soup, gathering up tomatoes and basil at the Friday Farmers Market in East Hampton, and sending his dad around town for a food mill, one of the few kitchen gadgets we had neglected to buy initially.

Again, a simple process: simmer up the veggies in stock, add the cream and pass the whole mess through a food mill, where the skins and seeds remain. The result isn’t thick and gloppy, but rather pleasantly thin with a touch of body from the cream. Heeding yesterday’s advice, we decided to add less salt and pepper than the recipe called for…but guess what. We tasted the soup and determined the original quantities had been absolutely spot on!

We almost forgot about the parmesan toasts you’re supposed to float in the soup for presentation, which would’ve been a travesty, as they add a saturated chewy-crunch to a few special spoonfuls, and the parm flavor enhances the tomato-basil flavor even more. (We have been lucky enough to find Sovrano Bufala Parmigiano this summer, and I must say it’s even sweeter and “umami-er” than the ubiquitous Reggiano). We actually cheated on the toasts slightly, using store-bought crostini and topping them with grated parm instead of slicing up a baguette.

One discovery we made is that the flavor profile is more tantalizing when the soup is warm rather than hot, the temp the recipe recommends. David likened it to wine, which doesn’t let on its beautiful nuances when it’s drunk too cold.

The only complaint about this pot of soup was that there’s wasn’t any left for breakfast—eight of us made all-gone last night with the doubled recipe!

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, ©2008


  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Croutons, for garnish


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that’s left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or croutons.

Serves 5-6


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