Last October I had the amazing opportunity of visiting Napa Valley for the first time, see post here. We stayed in the oh-so-quaint town of Yountville, where the restaurants are impeccable. From Thomas Keller's Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and the French Laundry (with the 6-month waiting list - no kidding!), to Michael Chiarello's Ad Hoc and Bottega. Who knew there was a place with so many Michelin Star rated restaurants, within 300 yards of each other?
Another gem is the Bistro Jeanty. It's small and adorable with an outside dining area that's actually larger than the inside dining room. By chance I ordered the tomato soup as my appetizer, not knowing this was one of their signature dishes. It came out topped with a puff pastry and was, I must say, the most amazing tomato soup I've ever had. It's creamy, flavorful and almost sinful. I knew at some point I'd want to recreate this, so recently when I started researching various tomato soup recipes, I was stunned and elated to find that Bistro Jeanty actually has the recipe posted on their website! Like any recipe, it's fun to mix it up, adding your own spices but there's little need here.
I've pulled it all together here so that you can try for yourself. The puff pastry adds the perfect finishing touch and gives it that visual wow factor. The puff pastry works best in a smaller soup bowl, like the lion's head bowls above. You can get 8 of them at Bed Bath & Beyond for around $30.00! Enjoy! See the original Bistro Jeanty recipe here.
Ingredients (makes 6 servings)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2lb yellow onion, sliced (usually half of 1 large onion)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 1/2lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
- 1 or 1/2 cup water ONLY if tomatoes aren't ripe and juicy
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon white ground pepper
- 1lb puff pastry sheets (I used Dufour Pastry Kitchen's Puff Pastry sheets)
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash
Melt the 1/2 cup of butter in a large stock/spaghetti pot over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns; cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Do not let the onions color. Add tomato paste and lightly “toast” the tomato paste to cook out the raw flavor.
Add tomatoes and water if needed and simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes and onions are very soft and broken down.
Puree in a food processor or using a handheld immersion blender. Pass through a strainer and return the soup to the pot. Add the cream, white pepper and salted butter to taste. Bring soup to a simmer the remove from heat. Allow the soup to cool for at least two hours or overnight in the refrigerator. The longer it cools the more the flavors will all come together!
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Divide the soup among six 8-ounce soup cups or bowls. Roll out the puff pastry to 1/4 inch. Cut into 6 rounds slightly larger than your cups. LIGHTLY brush the center of the dough with the egg wash, leaving the edges somewhat dry, so they stick to the bowl. Turn the circles, egg wash side down, and place over the tops of the cups, pulling lightly on the sides to make the dough somewhat tight like a drum. Do not let the dough to touch the soup. Press and tighten around the edge of the soup bowl and lightly brush with remaining egg wash so that you get a nice, brown crust. Be careful not to push the dough down.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. Do not open the oven in the first several minutes of cooking as the dough may fall. Serve immediately and enjoy!