From the Chronicle Kitchen
At Home with Michael Chiarello
Congratulations to Michael Chiarello, who came in second place in last week’s Top Chef Masters finale! Tell us what you thought looked like his most delicious food creation during Top Chef Masters and why, and enter to win a copy of Michael’s best selling 2005 cookbook At Home with Michael Chiarello, the tie in book to his Food Network series Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Sunny-Side-Up Crouton
This recipe was created to celebrate the tomato in all its summer glory. Too many tomato soups are made with tasteless tomatoes. You need to roast them, and roast them really well until they are black in spots. Use good olive oil and vinegar, plenty of salt and pepper, and, of course, lots of garlic.
Cooking Notes: When you use tomatoes at the absolute height of their season, their skins are thin, so you don’t need to peel them for this soup or strain the skins out of the finished soup.
Entertaining Notes: Everything here can be made hours ahead except for the eggs. You can use a poached or basted egg, but basted eggs with bright yolks look nicer, and the flavored oil makes a delicious drizzle. The benefit to poaching the eggs is they can be cooked an hour in advance and put in ice water a little underdone, then simply immersed in simmering water briefly before serving. I love barely warm soups in summer, and this soup can be served warm or at room temperature.
For the soup:
12 large, ripe tomatoes, about 4 pounds total weight
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
12 large cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
Finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 cups water
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
For the bruschetta:
1 loaf country-style bread, 1 pound
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
Finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
For the eggs:
Extra-virgin olive oil for frying
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 large eggs
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 500˚F.
Prepare the tomatoes for the soup: Core the tomatoes and quarter them lengthwise. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the vinegar, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread the tomatoes on a nonreactive rimmed baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until very dark in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Leave the oven on.
Make the bruschetta: Cut the bread crosswise into slices about 1 inch thick. You will need 8 slices. Place the slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown and just beginning to crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and lightly brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil, then season lightly with salt. Let cool.
Finish the soup: In a large saucepan, combine the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, the onion, and a pinch of salt over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the roasted tomatoes and water. Bring to a simmer, adjust the heat to maintain the simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the tomato mixture with the basil, starting at a slow speed and increasing the speed gradually. The mixture should be very smooth. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender right in the pan. You should have about 8 cups. (You can prepare the soup to this point and refrigerate several hours in advance. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature or reheat gently over medium heat.)
Cook the eggs: Using 2 skillets large enough for 4 eggs each, add enough oil to cover the bottom of each skillet by 1/8 inch. Divide the red pepper flakes evenly between the skillets, scattering them evenly over the bottom, then crack 4 eggs into each pan. Cook the eggs until the yolks are barely set, about 4 minutes, occasionally tilting each skillet to collect some oil in a spoon and pouring it over the yolks. Remove the eggs from the skillets with a slotted spatula.
To serve the soup, place 1 bruschetta in the center of each shallow soup bowl. Pour the soup around the bruschetta. Place an egg on top of each bruschetta. Garnish with the torn basil. Drizzle the flavored oil from the skillets over each bowl of soup and serve.
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