Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel saucepan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onion, scallions, carrot, and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on top of the mixture, stir thoroughly, and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring. Mix in the stock.
Meanwhile, process the cherry tomatoes in a food processor until coarsely chopped. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups.) Add the cherry tomatoes to the soup, along with the salt, pepper, thyme, and sage. Process the can of plum tomatoes for 5 seconds, and add to the soup. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes.
MEANWHILE, PREPARE THE GARNISHES: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Brush the bread slices with the olive oil and arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until nicely browned. Rub one side of the croutons with the garlic clove, and set them aside.
Using a thumbtack or pushpin, make a hole in the rounded end of each egg. Gently lower the eggs into a pan containing enough boiling water to cover them and cook for about 6 minutes in barely boiling water. Drain the hot water from the pan and shake the pan to crack the shells of the eggs on all sides. Fill the pan with ice and water and set the eggs aside to cool completely.
When the eggs are cool, peel them carefully (so as not to damage the yolks, which are still runny) under cool running water. Keep the eggs in cold water until just before serving. (The eggs can be cooked up to a few hours ahead and refrigerated in the cold water.)
At serving time, drain the cold water from the eggs and replace it with hot tap water. Let stand for 5 minutes, so the eggs are lukewarm inside.
Bring the soup to a strong boil, and ladle it into four bowls. Place an egg in the center of each bowl, and wait for a couple of minutes for the eggs to warm in the center. Place a crouton in each bowl and serve, sprinkled with the cheese.
Makes 3 quarts
It takes very little work to make your own stock; mostly it is a matter of being at home for the several hours it takes to cook. A flavorful money saver that is practically fat- and salt-free, homemade stock can be frozen in small quantities and used as needed.
Chicken backs and necks are available at most supermarkets. If you don’t see them, ask the butcher to set aside some for you. I also make stock from the bones of roasted chicken or turkey.
4 pounds chicken bones (necks, backs, wings, etc.), skinless or with as little skin as possible
6 quarts cold water
1 large onion (about 8 ounces), quartered
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
12 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (optional)
Combine the bones and water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently for 30 minutes. Most of the fat and impurities will rise to the surface; skim off as much of them as you can and discard them.
Add the onion, herbes de Provence, cloves, bay leaves, and soy sauce, if using, return to a boil, and boil gently for 2 1/2 hours. Strain the stock through a fine strainer or a colander lined with dampened paper towels. Allow to cool.
Remove the surface fat and refrigerate the stock for up to 5 days, or pour into containers and freeze.
Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
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