- 2 lb tomatoes
- 2 medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise (2 cups)
- 1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- Scant 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/4 California
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups water
- 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch crumbled saffron threads
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 cup long-grain white rice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cut a shallow X in bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife. Blanch tomatoes in batches of 2 or 3 in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling water 10 seconds, transferring with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking.
Peel tomatoes, then halve crosswise. Squeeze halves gently, cut sides down, over a sieve set over a bowl to extract seeds and juices, then press on seeds and discard them. Reserve juice and tomatoes.
Cook onions, carrot, celery, garlic, zest, thyme, red-pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and bay leaf in oil in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes with reserved juice, tomato paste, water, chicken broth, salt, pepper, saffron, and 1 teaspoon sugar, then simmer, uncovered, stirring and breaking up tomatoes with a spoon occasionally, 20 minutes. Stir in rice and simmer, uncovered, until rice is tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf and stir in parsley, basil, and sugar and salt to taste.
Gourmet, September 2006