Each summer, Johannes Sailer—chef at Les Abeilles in the Provencal village of Sablet—creates an all-tomato menu. One year he opened the meal with this stunning soup: all red, all fresh, all full of honest tomato flavor. This liquid blend of tomatoes, seasoning, top-quality olive oil, and vinegar makes you fee as though you are drinking your salad!
- 1-1/2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and quartered (do not peel)
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon ground piment d'Espelette or dried Anaheim chili (or ground mild chili pepper)
- 2 tablespoons best-quality sherry-wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 20 fresh basil leaves
Combine all the ingredients with 1-2/3 cups water in a food processor or a blender and purée to a smooth liquid. Taste for seasoning. The soup can be served immediately, but the flavors will benefit from ripening for 3 to 24 hours, refrigerated. At serving time, reblend the soup. Serve in chilled soup bowls.