Kit Wohl recipe: French bread & tomato soup

The recipe is courtesy of Kit Wohl's book New Orleans Classic Gumbos & Soups (Pelican Publishing). Kit appears regularly in the kitchen on the Sunday edition of Eyewitness Morning News, on Sundays at 6 a.m.

French Bread and Tomato Soup

The magnificent part of this extremely simple recipe in tandem with its extraordinary taste is that most if not all of the ingredients can be found in your pantry and refrigerator.  It’s perfect for a crowd of parade goers during the Carnival season, or any good hungry reason.

This soup, which is a meal in itself, is a great excuse to celebrate the season — for brunch, lunch or a Sunday evening supper, use canned tomatoes. South Louisiana’s distinctively flavored Creole tomatoes usually first appear in early June, with the season ending four to six weeks later.

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for sautéing
1 finely chopped white onion
4 minced garlic cloves
3 large Creole tomatoes, peeled, or a 28-ounce can of good-quality crushed tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
2 quarts chicken stock (fresh if possible)
4 large eggs
1/2 loaf stale French bread roughly torn into 12 chunks
1/2 cup to 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black peppercorns
Tabasco to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar, for garnish

In a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or a similarly sized heavy pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft and translucent.

If using fresh tomatoes, drop them into a separate pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins, then remove and run them under cold water. The skins will slip off easily. Core the tomatoes, and using your hands, crush them. If using canned, crushed tomatoes, drain them first then add the tomatoes to the soup.

Add them to the garlic and onions.  Cook for another 60 seconds. Add the white wine and simmer for another 30 seconds.

Add chicken stock, bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. 

Poach 1 egg for each serving. To easily poach eggs, fill a large skillet or saucepan up to 1 or 2 inches, or enough water to cover the eggs. Bring water to a simmer over low heat. Break each egg into the simmering water, keeping it separate from the others. Using a large spoon, baste each egg gently with the water to cook the tops, if necessary. Remove the skillet from heat and set aside. 

Place 3 chunks of French bread into the bottom of each bowl. Pour soup on top of the bread to cover completely. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove a poached egg from the skillet and slip onto each bowl of soup.

To finish, top with a generous sprinkle of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and fresh chopped basil. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and a splash balsamic vinegar. Add a grind of fresh pepper. Splash with Tabasco, season to taste with salt, and then serve.

**Prepared chicken stock is sometimes salted. Consequently, look for the low-sodium kind and do not salt the soup until ready to eat.

The recipe is courtesy of Kit Wohl's book New Orleans Classic Gumbos & Soups (Pelican Publishing). Kit appears regularly in the kitchen on the Sunday edition of Eyewitness Morning News, on Sundays at 6 a.m.


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