But the following day I ended up at Fiola and the chef sent out a small elegant oval bowl of tomato soup that made me swoon. Look at this gorgeousness!
When I got back to LA I immediately got to work trying to recreate it, and I got very damn close. Close enough for my taste buds. And it's super lazy!!!
I've now served it to two different groups of friends and they all asked for the recipe. Here's how I did it:
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes (mixture of yellow, green + red)
1 pound baby roma tomatoes
2 medium onions
6 cloves garlic
1 28 oz can tomatoes (San Marzano or another good Italian canned tomato)
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock (or water + a splash of red wine -- see below)
Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, 1 or 2 Bay Leaves, Dried Basil (or fresh at the end of the cooking process)
Fresh Herbs and/or Cheese
Chop the large tomatoes, slice the onions and peel the garlic cloves. Don't go crazy with how you chop. This should go fast. It's all going to be blended in the end so no need to make it pretty!
Once roasted, toss it all into a pot. Add the canned tomatoes, the stock, bay leaves, dried basil and red pepper flakes(if you don't like spicy, leave out the red pepper --I used between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon in mine for just a little kick).
NOTE: When I made this a second time, I found my pantry stock-less so I was stymied for a second. Then in a super-lazy-I-refuse-to-go-to-the-market move, I added filtered water and a big splash of red wine instead and it came out great!
Simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and use an immersion blender to smooth it all out into genuine soupy goodness. I added another bit of olive oil and simmered a bit longer.
If you like creamy tomato soup, just add a splash of cream toward the end of the simmer. But, before you do that, taste it, because you'll be amazed at how "creamy" it already is. In fact my dining mates in D.C. all thought the soup at Fiola had cream in it, but I don't believe it did. I have no idea what their recipe entailed but I do know that roasted onions create a lot of creaminess when blended. So, just give a quick taste before adding cream.
If you have fresh basil, you can add that at the end of the cooking process, instead of dried basil before the 30 minute simmer. Also, if you don't like the tartness of tomato seeds you can put the soup through some cheesecloth after you blend it. The texture will be spectacularly smooth and even! I left it the way it was myself, but I have strained tomato soups and sauces in the past and it's easy and does give an excellent pristine texture. I am guessing Fiola strained theirs because the texture was flawless. I like mine with a little more heft and tartness, so I didn't strain it.
Final step, sprinkle some fresh herbs on top -- basil, flat parsley, dill, scallions -- whatever you've got and think will hit the mark for your taste buds. For a second bowl -- after you've experienced the many layers of tomato flavors -- it's great with a little shaved parmesan on top.