Clotilde Dusoulier's love of French food is infectious, and her new cookbook, The French Market Cookbook, "draws on seasonal dishes from the regional repertoire that incorporate local bounty, plus inspiration from interesting restaurant meals she’s enjoyed and her own delicious innovations."
Save this one for the fall, and enjoy when you feel that first chill in the air.
Tomato and Tarragon Bread Soup
Panade de tomate à l’estragon
We consume a fair amount of bread in my house, and yet I feel I am invariably left with staling end slices no one will eat. It would be unthinkable to throw them out, so I freeze them instead until I have enough to make bread pudding in the winter or this chunky tomato soup in the summer. Panade is the French word for any peasant-style stew or soup made substantial by the addition of bread (pain and panade share the same root). This one is a rustic preparation of chopped tomatoes cooked in broth with onions and sage. I serve it for dinner in the summer; if there is a slight chill in the night air, it’s especially restorative.
This recipe can only sing as beautifully as the tomatoes you put in it, so use the tastiest field tomatoes possible, in season and ripe, preferably from the farmers’ market. Bonus points if you can mix and match different varieties. I garnish this soup with fresh tarragon, an herb with long, thin leaves whose subtly aniseed-like notes lift the overall flavor by a few notches.
Serves 4 to 6
- Olive oil for cooking
- 1 small yellow onion (4¼ ounces / 120 g), finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves,
- 1 minced, 1 halved
- 10 fresh sage leaves, midveins removed, finely sliced
- Fine sea salt
- 2½ pounds / 1 kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 10 ounces / 280 g stale country or sourdough bread
- 4 cups / 1 liter Homemade Vegetable Stock
- Hot sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup / 10 g fresh tarragon or basil leaves
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, minced garlic, sage, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often to avoid coloring, until the onion has softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, with their juices and seeds, and 1 teaspoon salt.
2. Cut one-third of the bread into slices about ¹?³ inch / 8 mm thick and set aside; you’ll be making croutons with those in a moment. Cut the remaining bread into rough cubes and add them to the pot.
3. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the tomatoes and bread are very soft, about 30 minutes.
5. Toast the reserved slices of bread and, while still warm, rub both sides with the cut side of the halved garlic clove. Dice into croutons.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with black pepper, top with croutons, and sprinkle with tarragon. Serve immediately.