Cristina Ferrare’s Cream of Tomato Soup with Homemade Ricotta Cheese & Arugula Pesto
As far as soups go this is my favorite soup to make, serve and eat! (It’s in my new cookbook, “Food for Thought” out on December 4.)
It’s basically a very simple and quick tomato sauce for pasta, omelets, and baked dishes such as chicken or fish. The big bonus here is that this recipe makes a delicious soup served piping hot or chilled. It’s light, full of sweet tomato flavor and is filled with the powerful antioxidant and carotenoid Lycopene.
Lycopene improves heart health by lowering blood pressure, which helps in preventing coronary heart disease, fights toxins in the blood and helps keep your eyes healthy. Lycopene has pain-inhibiting abilities for those suffering from neuropathy and is good for your brain by counteracting future cell damage. It also helps to keep your bones strong too by helping relieve stress in the bones.
For added flavor and texture, I add homemade Ricotta cheese and an arugula pesto as a garnish. You can use store-bought Ricotta cheese for this recipe but I highly recommend you make your own. It’s surprisingly simple to make and the difference in the flavor and texture is like night and day.
Yields 1 quart (4 to 6 servings)
Arugula Pesto, recipe below
Homemade Ricotta cheese, recipe below
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 scallions with green parts included, chopped into small chunks
½ cup dry, white wine
16 large organic Roma tomatoes cut into quarters
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Heat a saucepan on medium high heat for one minute. Add olive oil and scallions, turn heat to medium and cook 5 minutes to sweat the scallions. Add white wine and cook down by more than half. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and mix together.
Turn heat to a low simmer for 30 minutes. Make sure to stir a few times during cooking.
Add the tomatoes into a food processor or blender, puree tomato mixture for a good minute.
*Strain the tomatoes through china cap or medium mesh strainer to collect the seeds and skins, discard seeds and skin.
Pour the strained tomatoes into a clean pot, add chicken or vegetable broth and simmer for 20 minutes.
If the soup is too thick, add chicken or vegetable stock ¼ cup at a time to create a smooth creamy consistency. Taste and correct seasoning adding more salt if necessary.
Ladle soup into heated bowls and garnish with 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese, and 1 tablespoon of arugula pesto. Serve immediately.
If you are going to use as a sauce do not add the broth. Just mix it with your favorite pasta. You can garnish with Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and ricotta.
This soup can be served chilled.
2 quarts whole milk
1-cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
Take a layer of cheesecloth, double it up and line a mesh strainer and place it over or in a large bowl. Set aside.
Bring the milk, cream and salt slowly to a rolling boil in a heavy pot stirring occasionally so it won’t scorch.
Add lemon juice. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture curdles. (1-2 minutes)
Pour into the lined strainer and drain for an hour. Discard the liquid that collects at the bottom of the pot. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill. This will keep for two days in the refrigerator.
ARUGULA PESTO (Makes 1 cup)
4 cups of arugula
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1-1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
Wash and spin dry arugula well. In a blender or food processor add the arugula and garlic, then process for 15 seconds. Stop blender or food processor then add the olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and zest chopped to incorporate the ingredients. Don’t over blend you don’t want a thick paste.
1. *The secret to a great fresh tomato sauce/soup is to strain it, if not you will be left with a bitter tasting sauce from the seeds and skins.
I use a China cap to strain all my soups and sauces. It’s shaped like a funnel and is one tool in my kitchen I can’t live without. It removes seeds and other coarse matter from soft foods. You can find China Caps or Chinoise on line.
If you don’t have a China cap use a strainer with holes just large enough to catch the skin and seeds. If the mesh is too tight the holes will be too small and the tomatoes will be runny and too liquid.
2. Pesto will last up to 2 days in the refrigerator. You don’t want to leave pesto, any pesto in the refrigerator for more than 2 days. Garlic is a living organism and will grow mold after a few days. Best to make small amounts and consume within a couple of days.
If you want to make bigger batches I suggest you pour them into ice cube trays, freeze them, thaw what you need out when you want to use in a recipe.
3. If you are going to use as a sauce do not add the broth. Just mix it with your favorite pasta. You can garnish with Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and ricotta.
Check out other incredible, brain-healthy recipes in “Food for Thought” — out on December 4!