Come August and September and my kitchen is overwhelmed with tomatoes. In Portugal and Spain we cook a lot of tomato soup and Paprika or the smoked Spanish paprika version is widely used with it. Each cook swears by her own recipe and this is my version of tomato soup which I like with a good pinch of paprika. —Maria Teresa Jorge
tomatoes - medium - very ripe
onion - medium
celery stalk - choose a lighter green from the inside
Wash the tomatoes and cut them in pieces. Pass them through the juicer so you have pure tomato juice. If you don't have a juicer, blanch the tomatoes, cut them in quarters, deseed them and pass the tomatoes through a food mill (or purée sieve). The important issue here is that you want the tomatoes to remain red. If you process them in a food blender, this will incorporate air to the tomatoes and they turn pinkish.
Chop the onion in very small pieces.
Peel the garlic, cut in half, remove the inside green part and chop very, very finely.
Wash the celery stalk, trim the base and discard the leaves. Cut the stalk lengthwise in thin strips and then across to obtain very small cubes.
Peel the carrot and cut it up in very small cubes, the size of the cubes you made with the celery.
In a large pot over moderate heat warm up the olive oil. Add the onions and let them sweat for a little while, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the celery and after 2 minutes add the carrots. This sequence is important so that in the end your carrots still have a crunch to them.
Add the tomato juice and bring to a boil. If the juice is very watery simmer uncovered for 20 minutes to evaporate some water and thicken the soup. If the juice is nice and thick, simmer covered for 20 minutes. Check the consistency of the soup, it should be thick and you should still see the pieces of vegebles in it. If it's very watery, simmer uncovered until it thickens.
Season with salt and if acidic add a pinch of sugar. Add the paprika and 2 tablespoons of parsley and let cook for a further 5 minutes.
Serve hot. As an option for serving, you can hard boil an egg (10 minutes) and after cold, chop it in very small pieces, white and yolk together. Add it on top of the soup, a pinch of paprika over the chopped eggs and sprinkle with some parsley.