I didn't name the soup. It comes from James Peterson's book, Splendid Soups. I think calling any recipe "perfect" is like People magazine choosing one guy each year as the Sexiest Man Alive. Clearly, sexiness is all in the eye of the beholder, and unless your name is George Clooney, there is no such thing as the Sexiest Man Alive. (George, invite me to your villa in Italy--I'll make this soup.) This recipe may not be viewed as perfect to everyone, but it certainly comes close. It couldn't be easier to make, just freshly picked tomatoes, with a rich tarragon sauce drizzled on top. Tarragon may seem an odd choice for this soup. One would suppose that basil or oregano would be better But, tarragon's spicy, anise like flavor gives this soup a distinctive and unexpected flavor.
I was never a big fan of tarragon until I joined Weekend Herb Blogging, created by Kalyn. After reading Kalyn's posts about it, I gave it another try and wound up planting a tiny tarragon slip in a container in my backyard. It flourished there and I now enjoy using tarragon very much. See what can happen if you head over to Kalyn's site? Please go there and check out all the other herby bloggers.
This soup should only be made when you have access to freshly picked tomatoes. Since the tomatoes account for 99% of the ingredients, canned or store bought tomatoes won't give you the incredible flavor of vine ripened fruits. This is the recipe for your own tomatoes or lovely specimens from a farmer's market. The soup can be served hot or cold. We ate ours at room temperature, along with some toasted, buttered french bread. The sauce was made with heavy cream, but yogurt can be substituted. It really is almost perfect. The George Clooney of tomato soups.
Perfect Summer Tomato Soup With Tarragon Sauce (James Peterson, Splendid Soups)
6 large or 10 medium sized tomatoes--4 to 5 pounds
1/2 Tablespoon salt (can be less)
3 large tarragon sprigs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream or yogurt
Plunge tomatoes into a large pot of boiling water for about 20 seconds, then put tomatoes in a colander in the sink. Run cold water on the tomatoes as you peel the skins off them and keep running water on them until they are cool. Slice tomatoes in half crosswise and gently squeeze the seeds out into a small bowl. Strain the liquid in a sieve to remove the seeds and set liquid aside. Discard the seeds.
Chop the tomatoes until they have the texture you want. My were a little chunky. Put the tomatoes in a glass or stainless steel bowl and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Add some of the tomato liquid if the soup is too thick.
Preparing the Sauce
Remove tarragon leaves from their stems and put them on a cutting board with the olive oil, which prevents them from turning black. Chop leaves coarsely and combine with the cream or yogurt. Let this sit for 20 minutes, to infuse the cream with the tarragon. Chill the soup if you're serving it cold.
Serving the soup.
Heat the soup if you want it hot. You can stir some of the the sauce into the soup and pass the rest for people to add to their portion. Or just serve the soup with the sauce on the side, which is what I did. I served ours cold along with toasted french bread.