Late Summer Tomato Bisque With Shaved Fennel Salad

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  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Dash of honey (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 small fennel bulb, dark stems and fronds removed (save the fronds for garnish)
  • 4 or 5 radishes, stems trimmed
  • 1/4 cup pitted niçoise or Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar


To prepare tomatoes, cut the stem out of each with the tip of a knife and then cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Place one half, cut side down, on the outspread fingers of your hand, over a small bowl. Squeeze gently with the other hand until juice and seeds are released into the bowl. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Chop tomato flesh into 3/4-inch pieces.

In a heavy pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat and sauté onions and 3 cloves garlic until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, broth, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in 1 cup basil. If the tomatoes aren’t perfectly sweet, add a touch of honey. Allow the soup to cool slightly.

Purée soup in batches in a blender or food processor, or purée in the pot with a handheld immersion blender. Bring the soup back to a gentle simmer and add cream. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.

Combine 1/2 cup basil, capers, 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 cup oil in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Thinly slice fennel and radishes. (You may shave these on a mandolin if you are lucky enough to own one.) Toss together with olives, a pinch of salt and balsamic vinegar.

To serve: Ladle soup into soup bowls and swirl with Basil Caper Sauce. Top with Shaved Fennel Salad and fennel fronds.

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