Spicy Tomato Soup

You need to make this tomato soup. It’s bright and spicy and savory and sweet and best of all, easy. In fact, with very little effort, you can bring a smile to a tableful of eaters, especially if you pair it with yummy grilled cheese. I know I did last week!

The key is to adapt the spiciness to your taste by adjusting the amount of crushed red pepper. Start with less and add until you’re happy with the zing. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it out. Once it’s got the right degree of heat, blend and strain it, and you’re ready to go.

The soup was so simple to make that I was too lazy to do much else for dinner, so in an inspired moment, I pulled out the panini maker, picked up some brioche and aged gruyere, and everyone pressed their own toasty cheese sandwich to dip into the soup. And then the kids did it again with leftovers the next night. And then the following afternoon for lunch! Raves…as if I had slaved for hours on this gourmet meal. If they only knew!

Spicy Tomato Soup

Adapted from Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, ©2009 Barbara Lynch


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled, halved, and sliced into ¼-inch-thick slices
¼ – ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
1½ cups water
¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crème fraîche, for garnish


1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and very tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, plus the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the simmer time — just add a bit less water.)

3. Add the basil, season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and let cool briefly, about 5 minutes.

4. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam from the hot soup to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off).

5. Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula or ladle; discard the solids. Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

6. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat on medium low until hot. Serve topped with a tablespoon of crème fraîche.

Serves 6


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