Minestrone Alla Traviata
Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang
This is one of the best soups you’ll ever taste. Fresh tomatoes contribute a big part of the soup’s flavor. They are only cooked a short time, so you really savor true tomato taste. It may sound like a lot of fuss to blanch, peel, and seed tomatoes, but it makes a huge difference and it’s not so much work. Pop the tomatoes into boiling water and the skins sort of fall off by themselves. Don’t obsess like my grandmother, who used an espresso spoon to pick out every last seed! Just halve the tomatoes on a cutting board and watch the seeds ooze out on their own. I’ve conducted countless taste tests, comparing all sorts of top-quality canned tomatoes, and they do not approach the flavor of fresh heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes. Careful! If you’re thinking of using ordinary rock-hard supermarket tomatoes, then yes, the best canned will be superior. But you shouldn’t use those tomatoes, ever!
The dish is a soup version of pasta puttanesca and would have been a fitting first course at one of Violetta’s fine dinner parties.As it simmers and the aromas fill the kitchen, your doorbell is likely to ring. Your neighbors will pretend to need a cup of sugar, but don’t be fooled. They are just hoping for a taste!
Total Timeunder 1 hour
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursehot appetizer
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturegarlicky, salty, savory
Type of Dishhot soup
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion, minced
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- Red pepper flakes
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 cups best-quality vegetable or chicken stock
- 6 to 7 heirloom tomatoes, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeded, and chopped (or one 14½-ounce can of best-quality diced tomatoes such as Muir Glenn fire-roasted diced tomatoes)
- 20 pitted oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- Salt and freshly milled black pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
- Grated Romano cheese, for serving
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook 10 minutes, until soft. Add the anchovy, garlic, and red pepper flakes to taste. Using a fork, mash the anchovy fillets until they dissolve. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and then add the stock and tomatoes and cook until the soup just begins to boil. Remove it from the heat and allow to cool enough to transfer to a food processor.
Puree the tomato soup until smooth. Return it to the saucepan and stir in the olives and capers. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reheat the soup on low until warm. Serve topped with parsley and a sprinkle of Romano cheese.
2006 Francine Segan