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Tomato Soup with Ciabatta Toast and Grilled Cheese
For Basil Purée:
6 cups salted water
2 packed cups basil
½ cup olive oil
1. For Basil Purée: Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Blanch basil in salted water for 45 seconds. Remove basil and immediately shock in an ice bath until cold. Pat dry and purée in a blender with olive oil until smooth. Keep covered in cool place.
For Ciabatta Toast:
1 loaf Ciabatta bread, ripped into chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 branches thyme leaves
Oil, for frying (enough to fill a pan 2" high)
2. For Ciabatta Toast: Marinate bread chunks in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves at room temperature until bread is soaked fully. Fill a large, deep pot with 2" of oil and bring to 350°F. Carefully add bread chunks and deep-fry until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oil and lay on paper towels to drain.
For Marinated Feta Cheese:
4 ounces feta cheese
¼ cup of your preferred fresh herbs (basil, thyme, and sage all work well)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3. For Marinated Feta Cheese: Break feta into small chunks. Marinate in herbs, extra-virgin olive oil, and black pepper for as long as you wish. The longer you wait the more the flavors will be absorbed. Store in refrigerator.
12 large Brandywine or other heirloom tomatoes (a variety of colors doesn’t hurt)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
4. For Soup: Peel, coarsely chop, and deseed tomatoes. Wrap 1⁄3 of the tomatoes in cheesecloth and hang to drain overnight with a receptacle underneath to collect the tomato “water.” Discard the tomatoes in the cheesecloth after water is collected. When making the soup, sauté in a sauce pan on high heat in olive oil a couple slices of garlic and remainder of the chopped tomatoes for 1 minute. Add the tomato “water” and bring just to a simmer then immediately remove from heat. (Do not simmer for a long time. Prolonged cooking destroys the freshness of flavor.)
1⁄3 cup fresh basil and basil flowers
5. To Complete: Arrange the dish as artfully as you care to. Add a few dots of basil purée out of a squeeze bottle, a few chunks of feta cheese and Cibatta, and garnish with basil and basil flowers. Add soup just before serving.
Read more about Eat Ink in our story, Beyond Squid Ink.
Excerpted from Eat Ink Copyright © 2013 by Birk O’Halloran and Daniel Luke Holton and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Daniel Luke Holton.