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Winter Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese Crostini
Dec 31st, 2007



This delicious recipe comes from The Flexitarian Table, by Peter Berley. The cookbook is based on a fabulous premise ~ convertible recipes that can be prepared easily for either a vegetarian, meat-eating, or mixed group of diners. Unfortunately, for the most part the recipes aren't that appealing to me. Don't get me wrong, it's a great cookbook, I think I just have a different palate than the author. But if you're looking for good mostly-vegetarian recipes or have to cook for both meat-eaters and vegetarians do check this book out. If your palate matches up with Berley's I think you're in for a treat.

One of the recipes that did leap off the page for me was this Winter Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese Crostini, and considering I had to dash through falling snow in my backyard to grab the required sage and thyme I think that a winter soup was definitely called for. The recipe is easy to prepare and just the thing for a cold winter evening in front of the fire. Also, unless you're cooking for a large group you'll more than likely have some of the goat cheese spread leftover for sandwiches and snacks. Unfortunately I ate mine up before having a chance to try it, but panini/toasted sandwiches spread thinly with the herbed goat cheese and layered with grilled mushrooms and fresh tomato seem like an awfully nice idea.


Winter Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese Crostini

Soup
1/3 cup extra-virgin oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions (3-4 medium onions)
Sea salt or kosher salt
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
Large pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes in juice
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
2 2-inch strips orange zest
1 sprig fresh sage

Crostini
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 baguette
1 garlic clove, halved

2 tbsp chopped fresh chives or flat-leaf parsley, for serving


For the soup:
In a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring, until the onions are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, carrot, and pepper flakes, lower the heat, cover, and cook until the vegetables are sweet and juicy but not browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Check, stirring occasionally, and add 1 tablespoon water if the vegetables appear dry.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the olive oil turns reddish orange, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the stock or water, orange zest, and sage and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and discard the orange zest and sage. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or working in batches, in a regular blender or a food processor) until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a saucepan and reheat before serving.

For the Crostini:
Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together the goat cheese, olive oil, thyme, lemon zest, and a few grinds of black pepper until smooth.

Slice the baguette on the bias into four to six 1/3-inch-thick slices that are 2 to 3 inches long. Lay the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.

Rub the toasts with the garlic halves and spread with the goat cheese mixture.

Pour the soup into four bowls and float a crostini on each. Sprinkle with the chopped chives or parsley and serve immediately.

-Peter Berley, The Flexitarian Table
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© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com