This classic combo of tomato and cheese will delight your dinner guests

This soup looks so inviting when presented as a small appetizer portion, and it is a perfect starter for a sit-down dinner. I sometimes serve it in little enamel mugs, as pictured, but I also love to pick from the mismatched collection of assorted bone china teacups I inherited from my mom. Either way, the cute factor impresses everyone. As with any soup, this tastes great (if not better) the next day.

IngredIents

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 heaping cup)
  • ½ cup peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (see note below)
  • Parmesan tuiles (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. Place the oil and butter in a stainless-steel pot over high heat. Add the onion, sweet potato and garlic. Stir to combine, then cover. Turn the heat to medium and let the mixture sweat until the onion and sweet potato are soft, but not brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes (with their juices), chicken stock and thyme, and let the soup simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the thyme sprigs and, using a blender or food processor, purée the soup in batches, making sure no lumps remain. Return the puréed soup to the pot, and season with the sea salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into small cups, sprinkle each with a few shreds of the basil chiffonade, and crown with a Parmesan tuile.

Makes 12 4-oz servIngs

NOTES: Chiffonade is a term used for finely cut or shredded leafy herbs such as basil, mint or sage. To achieve a chiffonade, flatten each leaf and stack on top of each other, then tightly roll the stack and finely slice. This will produce a lovely stack of shredded herbs.

This would also be fun to serve in shooter glasses for a cocktail party. This recipe makes enough for 24 2-oz shooter portions. If topping with Parmesan tuiles, make them half the size as suggested in the recipe to make 24 tuiles.

 

Parmesan Tuiles

These cute, little crisps look daunting, but they are truly as easy to make as mounding two tablespoons of grated Parmesan onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and baking. You are welcome to add flavors, such as a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a pinch of lemon zest or cracked pepper. So easy and such impact. What are you waiting for?

IngredIents

  • 1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Place 2-tablespoon mounds of cheese on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, ensuring they are evenly spaced. If you wish to add flavor, do so before you bake.
  3. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes. The cheese will melt and spread into a lace-like cookie. Once the tuiles are flat and golden, remove from the oven immediately. At this point, they are very malleable, so laying them on a lightly greased rolling pin will result in a half rounded cup; placing them over the bottom of an upturned muffin pan will yield a fully rounded cup. You have a window of about 30 seconds to mold the tuiles; the minute they harden, they will remain firm. These will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.

Makes 12 tuiles

 

cookbook Caren McSherryRecipe courtesy of Penguin Random House from Caren McSherry's brand new book, Starters, Salads and Sexy Sides.