I got my latest cookbook a month ago in France (a thoughtful gift from Pierre): Bar à Soupes, published by Marabout. Anne-Catherine Bley (the author) explains how she opened the first soup bar in Paris, after having watched Seinfeld on TV and been to New York where she became enthusiastic about the whole concept. She has published several soup recipe books and some of them are translated in English. This one isn't yet...
The recipes are sorted by main ingredients (tomato, carrot, greens, dry beans, etc.) or by type (broths, traditional soups, soups with cheese, dessert soups...). There are also a lot of variants: one basic recipe and several ideas on how to modify/enhance it. I also like the pictures (by Akiko Ida), taken in the soup bar, of people religiously (or sometimes gluttonously!) eating their bowl of soup.
The very first recipe in the book is a cream of tomato soup. It comes with many inspired variants but I had to come up with my own, based on my fridge's content the other day... Here is my version of the "velouté de tomates":
- 1 big can (28 oz., about 800 grams) whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 branch thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 or 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt (e.g. FAGE "Total", classic or 2%)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 sugar cube (or 1 teaspoon crystal sugar)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- salt and pepper as needed
- 1 cup (about 25 centiliters) water
- Peel and coarsely chop the onion and garlic (remove the stem first). Heat the olive oil in a pot and start cooking the onion and garlic slowly (they shouldn't change color).
- Add the tomato paste, "le bouquet garni" (thyme and bay leaf), cumin seeds and sugar.
- Add the tomatoes and stir with a spoon to mix all the ingredients together. The tomatoes can stay whole.
- Pour the water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the thyme and bay leave.
- Blend as smoothly as possible with an electric blender.
- Add the Greek yogurt and mix well.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve the soup and sprinkle with a few cumin seeds on top of each bowl.