Although I am prone to exuberance and occasional hyperbole, I would not be exaggerating if I said this is my favorite soup recipe ever! It came to me many years ago from a fabulous restaurant in Sacramento, California called “The Kitchen”. It is owned by the Selland family who we have known for several decades and it is in my opinion one of the finest restaurants I have ever experienced (again, this is not a hyperbole). I must warn you that I might be slightly biased as my son, Noah Zonca, has been the Chef de Cuisine there for many years. Regardless of my personal connection, it is a unique dining experience that I would urge you to try if you are in the Sacramento area. Check out their seasonal menu that changes monthly www.thekitchenrestaurant.com .
That said, back to the task at hand. My son brought home a sample of this one night and after tasting it I knew I had to have the recipe. I remember describing the flavor as orgasmic! To my delight they shared it and I have been cooking and eating it ever since. It is one of those seasonal taste treats I look forward to every year knowing as summer progresses, those beautiful vine ripened tomatoes will make their appearance. I like to use a tomato called Amish Paste for this as this variety is large and meaty with fewer seeds but any type of Roma or paste tomato will do. The key, besides fresh components, is the roasting. It develops a smokey flavor that gives the soup great depth. Simple ingredients, big rich flavor.
Recipe Serves 4-6
2 lb Roma tomatoes, cored and quartered
4 c leeks, cleaned well and sliced
1 c celery, sliced
1 T garlic salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 c vegetable or chicken stock (I usually use chicken but whatever you like)
2 c V-8 juice
1 T fresh thyme, stemmed
1 T fresh oregano, stemmed
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to high, around 475 degrees.
- Toss the prepared tomatoes, leeks, and celery with the olive oil and the garlic salt. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast the vegetables on high heat until soft and brown around the edges.
- Put all the vegetables into a large pot and cover with the stock, V-8 juice, thyme and oregano. Simmer until vegetables are very soft.
- Blend until very smooth using an immersion or regular blender or food processor. This will produce a smooth but somewhat rustic texture. If a silkier texture is desired, press through a fine sieve, but usually I do not do this.
- Taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve hot with a garnish of goat, feta or other cheese (I like the Mexican Cotija which is shown here), fried leeks, crab, creme fraiche or whatever sounds good to you.
I have featured this recipe in a number of classes over the years and it has always been met with rave reviews. I can almost guarantee it will become one of your favorites. The simplicity of the ingredients highlight the flavors of the season so it is fresh and always refreshing even though soup may not strike you as a summer preparation. It can be frozen for later but it is its absolutely best when freshly made.
I served it last night for dinner with a crisp salad and cannot wait for a repeat performance at lunch today. Try it soon and let me know if your first reaction matches mine.