Inspired by the sweet-salty pleasures of a BLT sandwich, this version of tomato soup starts with smoky bacon and gets better from there. It's comforting, savory, and goes brilliantly with grilled cheese.
2 slices smoked bacon (about 1.5 oz.) cut into thin matchsticks ½ tbsp. unsalted butter 1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 3 oz. or 1 cup) 1 small carrot, halved and thinly sliced (about 2.5 oz. or ¾ cup) 1 tbsp. tomato paste 2 tsp. flour 2 cups chicken stock 1 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes, well drained 2 sprigs thyme 1 fresh bay leaf 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed 2 tbs. heavy cream
1. Render bacon over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan until crisp, about three minutes. Remove bacon to paper-towel lined plate and set aside, reserving the rendered fat in the saucepan.
2. Increase heat to medium-high and add the butter. Sauté the onion and carrot for 8-10 minutes or until very soft and beginning to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture, mix well and continue cooking for another minute. Gradually pour in the stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the diced tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove soup from the heat. Add the heavy cream and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season to taste and serve garnished with the crisped bacon.
To make this soup vegetarian: Omit the bacon and increase the butter by 1/2 tablespoon.