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Val says, "C'est magnifique"...and I agree.

Velouté de Tomates

(French Creamy Tomato Soup)

The favorite recipe of Val Garnier, from Paris. It's thick, rich, and with a lovely spice--excellent as a first course to an elegant meal...or as lunch with a salad or sandwich. My English version below is followed by Val's original French. Serve hot to 4 as a first course. In the summer, serve cold with a splash of cream in each bowl.

Garnish: 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan and thinly sliced basil leaves

In a large saucepan, stir together all the ingredients except the egg yolk and creme fraiche, bring to a boil, and cook on medium heat for 40 minutes. Remove the thyme sprig and bay leaf, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil for a minute or two. Puree in a blender, return to the pan, then reheat at a simmer. Right before serving, beat the egg yolk with the creme fraiche. Whisk the egg-creme fraiche mixture into the pot and cook, stirring, on low heat until the soup thickens.

When ready to serve, set out the soup plates (warming them is nice), ladle in the soup and top with Parmesan and slivers of basil leaf. Serve immediately.