I adapted this from a favorite recipe in Bon Appetit. This never lasts long in my house, so feel free to make a double batch. Oh, and it goes really well with a toasted cheese sandwich.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
a few sprigs thyme
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
One 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
¼ cup (or more) heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
Fresh bread, for serving
Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the thyme, onion, and garlic. Season with salt. Cook until the onion is completely soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the tomato paste has begun to caramelize in spots, 5 to 6 minutes—it will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add the tomatoes with their juices and 4 cups of water to the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. As the tomatoes rise to the surface while the soup simmers, use scissors to cut them up. (You’ll purée it later, but somehow I think cutting them up, helps them cook down better.) Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until the flavors meld and the soup reduces to about 1 quart, 45 minutes or so.
Remove soup from the heat and discard the thyme sprigs. Working in small batches, purée the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, or purée with an immersion blender. Return the soup to the saucepan.
Stir in the 1/4 cup cream. Taste and adjust as needed. I like adding the teaspoon of sugar, and I add at least a teaspoon of kosher salt (probably 1 1/2 teaspoons, but I like salt, so season to taste). I like lots of fresh cracked pepper, too. Simmer soup until flavors meld, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Taste again, and add more cream, if desired.
Ladle soup into bowls and shave Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Serve with more pepper, if desired, on the side and fresh bread.