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6 large beefsteak tomatoes, about 2 lbs. (I like to use beefsteak tomatoes for soup rather than Romas, as they’re juicier)
2 large carrots
1 large onion, sweet Okanagan field or Walla Walla, if possible.
2 large cloves garlic, left in skin
⅓ cup olive oil
4 slices Lepp’s Double Smoked Bacon, chopped into ½ inch pieces
½ tsp. smoked paprika
3 Tbsp. tomato paste (this is where it’s handy to have a tube of tomato paste!)
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups Lepp’s Chicken Stock
1/2 cup whipping cream
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Croutons, snipped chives, creme fraiche for garnish
Core and cut tomatoes in half. Remove as much of the root pieces of the onion as you can, but leave the stem intact. Remove the outer layer. Cut into 4 pieces, cutting from top to bottom (this way the onion doesn’t fall apart when you cut it). Chop carrots into 2-inch pieces.
Place all vegetables into a roasting pan, big enough to hold in a single layer and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Place tomatoes cut side down in the pan, and roast for 1 hour at 350 degrees. When veggies are cooked and cool enough to handle, pinch the tomato skins with your fingers, they should just slip off and discard. Heat a pot big enough to cook the soup in, and saute the bacon until crispy. Discard as much of the bacon fat as you like, and add the smoked paprika and tomato paste, stirring to cook for 3 minutes. This gives the spice and paste a chance to develop a richer flavor. Now add the skinned tomatoes, carrots, onion pieces (discard any pieces that are black and chop off the stem end, if still attached). Squeeze the garlic out of the skins, and add to the mixture. Add stock, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf and thyme stems. By now the thyme leaves should have fallen off into the soup and you should only be left with woody stems. If not, remove from soup and strip off leaves when cool enough to handle. Add the leaves back into the soup, and discard the woody stems. Remove from heat.
In batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor. Remember to take the clear piece out of the blender lid to allow the hot steam to escape, cover with a tea towel to avoid splattering! Return pureed soup to the pot, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add ½ cup whipping cream. Reheat gently.