Tomato Soup with Candied Bacon

The whole point of tomato soup is to make one as an adult that tastes as good as when you were a kid. This one—a velouté with smoky paprika and a maple-sugar-dusted strip of bacon—is that soup. Now all you need is a grilled-cheese sandwich...
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Candied Bacon

8 ounces thick-sliced bacon, about 8 slices

1/4 cup maple sugar, or light brown sugar

Soup

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 medium yellow onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon sugar, plus more to taste

2 1/2 cups water

Zest of ½ lemon

1 2/3 cups whole milk, divided

1/2 cup heavy cream, divided

6 dashes Tabasco sauce, divided

1/4 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Bacon, part 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and arrange bacon slices on the rack in an even layer. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of maple sugar on each slice, lightly pressing to help it adhere. Flip bacon and repeat so both sides are coated. Bake until almost crisp, 8 minutes, checking after 5 to ensure it's not burning.
  2. Soup: In a pot over medium-high heat, add 4 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is rippling, add the onions. Stir and cook until they’re soft and translucent, 2–3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and half the salt, and cook 2–3 more minutes. Add remaining olive oil and the tomato paste. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, 2–3 minutes. This is called "frying out": the tomato paste will caramelize and stick to the pan, making a great soup base. Add chopped tomatoes, smoked paprika, fish sauce, remaining salt, and sugar. Stir, scraping to deglaze the pot. Add water, stir again, cover, and simmer, 20 minutes.
  3. Bacon, part 2: Finish crisping the bacon by flipping it again and sprinkling the remaining sugar on top. Return to oven to render out the remaining fat, 4 minutes. Bacon will look glassy when it’s done. Remove to cool. (Note: Bacon will not be crisp until it has completely cooled.)
  4. Soup, part 2: Stir lemon zest into soup. Blend in two batches: for the first, ladle half the soup into a blender, along with ⅔ cup milk and ¼ cup cream. Fill blender no more than halfway, remove lid plug, and cover with a kitchen towel to catch spatters. Blend on low to start, then switch to high until smooth and puréed. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add a pinch of sugar, 4 dashes Tabasco, pepper, and ¼ cup milk. Cover and blend on high to purée. Ladle the soup into a clean pot to rewarm and set aside. Repeat for the second batch with remaining soup and Tabasco, pinch of sugar, ¾ cup milk, and ¼ cup cream. Then add second batch to the pot.
  5. Assembly: Reheat soup over low heat, 2 minutes. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with candied bacon. Serve immediately.
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