Vine-Ripened Tomato Stew with Basil and Chèvre Croutons

Brian Aspell

Mountain View Grand, Whitefield, NH

During tomato season there is no better way to show off the fruit's natural sweetness than to stew them ever so slightly. Brian Aspell of The Colonnade Room serves the simple stew with large croutons topped with a “wonderful chèvre” from Vermont Butter and Cheese in Websterville, Vermont.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk fennel, diced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and diced
  • 6 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and diced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound chèvre, softened


In a soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic, fennel, and leek. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and simmer the stew until the wine has reduced almost to dry. Add the chicken stock and the remainder of the herbs and spices. Simmer the stew until the tomatoes begin to break apart. Remove the stew from the stove and briefly pulse in a food processor. The stew should remain somewhat chunky and not fully puréed. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

For the croutons, cut a loaf of French bread, on the bias, into small oval slices. Brush one side of the bread with virgin olive oil and toast in a 400ºF oven until golden. Spread a thin layer of softened chèvre on the toasted slices. Serve the chèvre croutons with the tomato stew.


4 to 6 servings