Some of the best food pairings are those we remember from our childhood: peanut butter and jelly, carrots and ranch, strawberries and cream. We ate tomato soup and grilled cheese on long summer nights, after soccer games and water gun fights. It may have been too hot for soup, but the sweet flavor of ripe summer tomatoes made us forget.
Tonight, we're revamping this classic combination. Whipped burrata and basil oil cool off a fresh tomato soup, and the sandwich is served crostini-style, topped with anchovies and ricotta. Though we've grown up, and so has the meal, we're still brought back to those hot summer nights with the first bite of a soup-dipped cheese sandwich.
2 pounds Roma tomatoes
2 large shallots
One bunch fresh basil
One 8-ounce ball fresh burrata cheese
9 anchovy fillets
1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
Fresh Italian parsley
Roasted garlic, optional
1 cup fresh, whole-milk ricotta cheese
We're assuming you have extra-virgin olive oil, freshly ground pepper, butter, garlic, all-purpose flour, kosher salt, chicken broth, and pepper. If not, be sure to add those to your list, too.
1. Roast the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and seed them. Place the halves, cut side-up, on a parchment- or Silpat-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast for one hour while you prepare the ricotta and basil oil. Then, remove them from the oven and set aside.
2. Make the herbed ricotta: With a fork, mash the anchovy fillets with 3 teaspoons of lemon zest until it's mostly dissolved. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, then mix in 1/2 teaspoon of finely minced rosemary, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. If you'd like, add in 1/2 teaspoon of roasted garlic. Cover and refrigerate.
3. Make the basil oil: Blend 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract all of the oil. Set aside.
4. Simmer the soup: Once the tomatoes are done roasting, finely dice the shallots and two large cloves of garlic. In a 4-quart soup pot or Dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the diced garlic and shallots and sauté until soft and fragrant. Stir in two tablespoons of flour, then sauté for another minute or two. Add the chicken broth and roasted tomatoes to the pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Purée the soup: Let the soup cool down a bit, then purée in a blender until smooth. Add two additional basil leaves in the last few seconds, and purée until incorporated. Return the soup to a clean pot and gently reheat.
6. Finish the crostini: Slice the baguette and arrange the pieces on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil, and toast under a broiler until lightly browned. Spread the ricotta mixture on the slices, then top with additional olive oil to taste.
7. Serve: Break up the ball of burrata with a fork, then whip it in a food processor until smooth and airy. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a dollop of whipped burrata and a drizzle of the basil oil. Serve the crostini alongside the soup, dipping as you please.
Photos by James Ransom