I love all kinds of tomato soup, but this creamy, flavor-packed rendition full of Spanish vibes is my absolute favorite. A few simple tricks make it really good (and a cinch to make!): reaching for top-quality canned tomatoes, using both fresh red bell pepper and roasted (from a jar) to layer and deepen the flavors, and adding sherry vinegar after sauteing the aromatics and letting it cook off (similar to wine)—a tip I picked up from Michael Anthony’s The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook that adds so much verve and complexity.
But my favorite trick? Adding white beans to make the soup lusciously creamy without any dairy. I developed the recipe using a standard-sized can of cannellini beans: 1 cup is simmered and blended into the soup, and then the rest are crisped-up in olive oil, dusted with smoked paprika, and used as a garnish (along with snipped chives).
A few tips and notes: if you have garden-fresh tomatoes, by all means use them in place of the canned tomatoes. Same for the red peppers; freshly roasted peppers can be used in place of jarred. As for the crispy white bean garnish, feel free to play around with the accoutrements. Use basil, parsley, tarragon, or cilantro in place of the chives, toast a handful of almonds or croutons alongside the white beans, or pile-on some chopped cured ham or crispy bacon for any meat eaters at your table. —EmilyC
4 to 6
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped
garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
kosher salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
granulated sugar (optional)
tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
28-ounce can good-quality whole tomatoes, such as San Marzano, juice reserved
10-ounce jar roasted red peppers or piquillo peppers, drained
1 3/4 cups
cooked white beans (from one 15.5-ounce can), drained and rinsed, divided
vegetable broth (or more to thin, as needed)
Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, red bell pepper, garlic, salt, and a few big pinches of pepper. Sauté for about 6 minutes, until softened.
Add sherry vinegar, and cook, stirring constantly, until most of it has evaporated, about one minute.
Add 1 cup white beans, tomatoes (and juices), roasted red peppers, vegetable stock, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 15 minutes, lowering heat, if needed, to maintain a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup white beans and 1/4 teaspoon paprika, stirring to evenly coat the beans in the paprika. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the beans are lightly browned and crisp.
When soup is done, blend it in batches until smooth. Add salt, to taste, and a little more sherry vinegar and/or a pinch of sugar, if needed, to balance the flavors.
Divide soup into bowls, and top with a spoonful of the white beans and chopped chives.