I have made many tomato soups and this one was very easy. I used one can of crushed plum tomatoes. If you don’t have crushed in the house, you can crush in your food processor. I almost always have parmesan cheese in the house and I loved using the rind, as they have many uses particularly in soups where they can soak and soften. This time I diced it up into small little pieces so the result was like little explosions of flavor. Don’t ever throw away those rinds, they are so perfect used in soups and sauces. The saffron threads give it that warm wonderful flavor.
1 small piece of rind (2×3) from either Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced up (you can buy packages pre-chopped, keep in the freezer and just take out when you need them)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
* scant 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (if you like the heat)
1 28-ounce can crushed plum tomatoes (San Marzano the best)
2 – 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt (and you’ll probably need a drop more after tasting)
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads (buy a package of saffron threads sold in most supermarkets, and just gently crumble before measuring )
In a soup pot, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta and saute over medium heat until it is nicely browned and crispy. (I prefer it very crispy.) Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes to the pan and saute until onions are softened, about 6 – 10 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth. Simmer until the mixture becomes more condensed and aromatic. I did this for 30 minutes.
While this is happening, I placed cheese rinds into microwave for about 15 seconds just to soften. They are easier to dice up once they are warmed. I cut into pretty small dice size pieces.
Turn heat off, and using an immersion blender (they are the best), roughly puree the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can do this in batches with a regular blender. You will probably want to add some more of the chicken broth at this point. I gradually added as I blended. I used about 2 1/2 cups total chicken broth. Taste for salt at this point, and add accordingly. Bring the soup back to simmering and drop the diced cheese rinds into the soup to soften. Ladle into individual soup bowls, scatter the surface of the soup with the reserved pancetta, and serve. You will want to have a nice crusty bread to serve alongside this delicious soup.
*serves app. 4 people