Fresh tomatoes are roasted then simmered in vegetable stock with sweet peppers and fresh basil, then topped with green garlic-fried croûtons, Asiago cheese and a drizzle of fruity, raw olive oil.
Roasting intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes, roasted yellow pepper adds sweetness and the fried green garlic adds a mellow bite. Plenty of black pepper, fresh basil, olive oil and sharp cheese tie it all together..
3 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, divided
1 1/2 cups strong, homemade vegetable stock
1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, blistered
3-4 bulbs green garlic plus a little of the green tops, slivered
handful fresh basil leaves, chiffonade-cut, divided
good quality raw olive oil
day-old sprouted wheat bread, cubed
1 tablespoon pastured butter
Asiago or Parmesan cheese, grated
coarse sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper
Wash and core tomatoes. Cut a small x at the pointed end of half of the tomatoes and plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds. Allow to cool enough to handle, then slip the skins off, dice the tomatoes and add to a heavy pot along with the vegetable stock. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered until reduced and darkened, about 30-40 minutes.
Broil the other half of the tomatoes with the bell pepper until blistered and somewhat blackened. Place on a plate, cover with an inverted bowl and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, slip most of the skin from the tomatoes, chop and add to the soup pot. Peel and dice the peppers and add to the along with 3/4 of the basil.
Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes and green garlic and fry until the croûtons are golden brown. Sprinkle the croûtons with the grated cheese while still hot, then scoop the green garlic into the soup. Simmer uncovered 15 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with warm croûtons and reserved fresh basil.