Charred Hanover Tomato Soup with Lump Crab

Roasting the tomatoes before adding them to the soup intensifies their flavor.

4-5 ripe Hanover tomatoes, halved
¼ pound pancetta, diced
2 medium red onions, quartered
3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup white wine
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ pound lump crab meat
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the tomatoes, cut-side up, on a sheet pan and roast until blackened around the edges—about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, cook the pancetta and onion together in a one-gallon kettle until the onions turn deep golden brown. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, cooking an additional minute. Add the wine and bring it to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any accumulated browned bits. Add the stock and blackened tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Using a food processor or a blender, purée the soup in batches, and strain it into another large kettle. Season fairly generously with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, whisk together ½ cup of cold water and the cornstarch until well dissolved, then whisk in one cup of the hot soup. Add the mixture back to the soup and bring to a boil for 10 seconds to thicken, stirring well. Turn to low heat and gently stir in the crab along with the lime juice.

Serve immediately, or chill the soup and serve it cold. Serves 4 as an entrée; 6-8 as an appetizer.