Yield: 12 servings.
4 3/4 lb. fully ripened fresh Florida tomatoes, divided
3 oz. unsalted butter
12 oz. diced onions
3 cloves minced garlic
3 oz. all-purpose flour
1 qt. chicken stock or broth
1 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp. sugar to taste,
salt to taste, ground black pepper to taste,
hot pepper sauce
Peel and seed tomatoes. Cut 3 3/4 lb. into large dice; cut remaining tomatoes into small dice; set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and garlic; cook until tender but not browned. Stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes longer. Stir in largedice tomatoes, stock and orange juice. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until tomatoes are very soft, about 15 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Stir in small-dice tomatoes and sugar. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and hot pepper sauce. Return to heat; simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with thinly sliced orange and basil leaves, if desired.
Florida Tomato "Best of the Best" contest winner, culinary student Steven Barnhart of Kendall College, Evanston, Ill.
Photo: FLORIDA TOMATO COMMITTEE