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Cream of Tomato Soup with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Arugula Pesto

Cristina Ferrare shares this delightful and comforting soup from her cookbook, Food for Thought: Recipes for Ultimate Mind & Body Health. The secret to this soup is the China cap, or funnel-shaped strainer with coarse perforations, which gives the soup a creamy texture. A fine-meshed strainer will make the soup watery.

Cream of Tomato Soup with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Arugula Pesto
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

For the homemade ricotta:
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the cream of tomato soup:
1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
16 large organic Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups vegetable broth

For the arugula pesto:
4 cups arugula, washed and dried well
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Directions

1. Make the ricotta: Line a mesh strainer (preferably a china cap) with a layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

2. In a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, slowly bring the milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t scorch.

3. Add the lemon juice, Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Pour the mixture into the lined strainer and drain 1 hour. Discard the liquid that collects in the bottom of the bowl along with the cheesecloth. Cover the cheese tightly with plastic wrap. Chill thoroughly. It will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator.

5. Make the soup: Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for one minute. Add the oil and scallions, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the scallions release their juices. Add the wine. Cook until the liquid is cooked by more than half. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and pepper until well combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. In the base of a food processor or blender, pulse the tomato mixture for 1 minute. Strain the tomatoes through a Chine cap or medium mesh strainer to collect the seeds and skins, discard seeds and skin.

7. Pour the pureed tomatoes into a clean pot over medium heat, add the broth and simmer 20 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more stock, 1/4 cup at a time, to create a smooth, creamy consistency.

8. Make the arugula pesto: In the base of a blender or food processor, blend the arugula and garlic 15 seconds. Stop the blender and add the olive oil, parmesan cheese, and salt. Pulse to chop and combine the ingredients, being careful not to overblend. Using a spoon, stir in the lemon zest.

9. Serve: Ladle the soup into heated bowls and garnish with 2 tablespoons ricotta and 1 tablespoon arugula pesto.

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