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Tomato Soup

January 24, 2011

Every once in a while, I’m really on the ball and a recipe turns out right the first time. Not that I mind tweaking and playing, mind you, because that’s half the fun of cooking.

But it’s always a nice surprise when — at the end of roasting and sauteeing, and adding a little of this and a little of that — you take a spoonful from the pot and go, “Wow, that’s nice,” right out of the gate.

This tomato soup was like that. Of course, I did have a head start, as I spend eight months out of the year completely tomato fixated. After you’ve been through a few years of canning the season’s tomatoes, their aroma is permanently ingrained in your nose brain, and from there it’s not a far leap to daydream about recipes and flavor profiles.
Ah, yes. San Marzanos. Second only to SoupAddict’s own garden-fresh tomatoes.* But assuming that you don’t have ready access to SoupAddict’s tomato garden, you really should try to find San Marzano canned tomatoes. I also like the Pomi brand, which comes in a cute little 26 oz. aseptic box. You’ll never look at Hunt’s or Heinz the same way again.

*SoupAddict is engaging in a small, half-hearted statement of hubris here, because there’s just nothing better than a freshly picked organic tomato, still warm from the sun. No canned tomato can match that flavor and shouldn’t be expected to.

Tomatoes, basil and garlic, ready for roasting.
A little mirepoix gets the party started.

Word to the wise: see those things in the background on the left? Those are actual baby carrots. True baby carrots are crispy and sweet, through and through. The things being advertised in those mind-numbingly dumb baby carrot commercials are full sized carrots whittled down to their cores to look like baby carrots. And the cores in full-sized carrots are often hard and slightly bitter. So, if you’re having problems getting the fam to eat those [air quotes] baby carrots, that’s why. They ain’t baby carrots.

And here endeth today’s lecture on baby carrots.

Can you tell that those commercials irk SoupAddict to no end? SoupAddict grows carrots; she knows what baby carrots are supposed to taste like.

The tomatoes are nicely roasted and ready to go. These tomatoes, btw, are whole, peeled tomatoes. It’s what I had on hand, so I just crushed them a little during straining to release more juices, and roasted as normal. They’ll break down further during cooking and will puree up just fine. Chopped or crushed tomatoes will let you skip the squeezing step (and also skip the part where you look down at your shirt a half hour later to see a trail of tomato juice and seeds).
Mirepoix + roasted tomatoes and garlic = SoupLove.

Believe it, it’s true.

20 minutes later and … ta da! … tomato goodness in a bowl. Serve with your favorite breadsticks (recipe to follow in next post) or a grilled cheese sandwich. It almost makes winter worth it.

Tomato Soup

Makes 4 servings.

1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
2 heaping tablespoons fresh basil (leaves only), chopped or fine chiffonade (measured after chopping)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 or 2 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half or milk, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and place in a mixing bowl*. Add basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss or stir gently to mix. Spread tomato mixture onto a foil-lined (for easy cleanup), rimmed baking pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a stock pot or large saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion, cook until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add the roasted tomato mixture, the reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf, sugar and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Puree with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth, or blend in a regular blender, working in batches. Add dairy**, if using, stirring well to blend. Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary.

*If you’re dirty-dish-averse, you can do the mixing part right on the prepared baking sheet. Just be gentle so you don’t rip the foil or fling tomatoes to and fro.

**This soup is pretty smooth and creamy as it is, without milk or cream. However, if you’re a creamy-tomato-soup addict like SoupAddict, add 1 tablespoon of dairy at a time until it reaches your desired level of creamy goodness.

  1. Skinny Cook permalink
    January 24, 2011 4:08 pm

    Mmmmm. That sums it up.

    Not only did you nail the recipe on the first try – you wrote it down. I never remember to write mine down. And I try to make it again and it’s not nearly as good. Usually takes the fourth try to regain the mojo.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 24, 2011 8:35 pm

      Heh heh … I’m not that good … I actually wrote this recipe down first in my trusty notebook [forgot about it] and then tweaked the amounts as I went along. 😉

  2. Nick permalink
    January 24, 2011 4:18 pm

    Ha! And here’s me, wondering what I might do with the rest of the carrots and celery that I bought to make the chicken and noodles!

    No San Marzanos around here, although I’ve ordered them online a couple of times. Have you ever tried the Red Gold brand? They’re not Italian (Californian), but they’re pretty darn good for canned.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 24, 2011 8:39 pm

      I think I have … but even though my Kroger is one of those test market super store thingies, they tend to carry a limited number of brands. Dining room furniture? Oh, yes. Red Gold brand? Not so much. It really irks me that they don’t carry Cabot cheese. I have to go 5 additional miles to the next [much smaller] Kroger for that.

  3. January 24, 2011 4:38 pm

    *hand flapping, running in circles* ohmygod, ohmygod. It’s the tomato soup recipe I’ve been wanting! I am so going to make this one on my day off Wednesday. Perfect for after school, after storm afternoon. Thank you soooo much!!!!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 24, 2011 8:45 pm

      MaryJane, you totally know about the timing of this. 😉 As soon as I saw your reply to my comment the other day, I thought, oh geez! where did I put that recipe – I had written it down long ago and forgotten about it. Then I got the worst craving for tomato soup. It was just meant to be. The pizza twists were awesome, btw.

  4. January 24, 2011 5:20 pm

    I absolutely love using San Marzano tomatoes! I discovered them when I made Smitten Kitchen’s easy tomato pasta sauce with half an onion and half a stick of butter.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 24, 2011 8:47 pm

      I think that’s when I found them, too – although I had made the same recipe from a different source (Orangette, I think). Some super nice folks posted comments here about San Marzano tomatoes, and I haven’t looked back since. 🙂

  5. January 24, 2011 6:01 pm

    As Barry White might say…oh, yeah…

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 24, 2011 8:50 pm

      I would really love for Barry White to follow me around for a day and just make random comments like that. I could listen to his voice all day long – he makes everything sound fabulous. 😀

  6. Joanne permalink
    January 24, 2011 6:03 pm

    Cannot wait to make this…I LOVE tomato soup but have yet to find a recipe that sounds acceptable..thank you !! One thing, though…are those really San Marzano’s? Unless they are a different brand from the ones I was tricked into buying, they are not the real deal!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 24, 2011 8:53 pm

      Oh, man … don’t say that! The can has already gone to the recycle center, but I’m pretty sure that this is the same brand that I’ve seen other folks use. Or we’ve all be duped! Yikies.

      I hope you enjoy the soup!

      • Joanne permalink
        February 3, 2011 6:30 am

        It was amazing!! I added a little cayenne…I’m making it again this weekend and will double (triple??) the recipe. Thank you so much!
        I checked the can and the tomatoes are not actual San Marzano’s…no “D.O.P.” stamp…they shouldn’t be allowed to use that label…but they work fine for the soup!!!

        • SoupAddict permalink
          February 3, 2011 2:25 pm

          I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m going to have hunt around for the authentic thing. Last summer, one farmer at my local farmer’s market grew the San Marzano cultivar here in Cincinnati, but by the time I found about it, another customer had offered to buy their entire crop. Drat!

  7. January 24, 2011 6:26 pm

    MMMMM this sound really good. I tried Rachel Rays roasted tomato soup and roasted about a dozen roma tomatoes for a few hours. I also roasted some garlic. We were fairly disappointed in the soup. Maybe I didn’t puree it enough.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 24, 2011 9:03 pm

      I can’t say for sure, not knowing Ray’s recipe, but tomatoes roasting for a few hours will turn out to be more stewed-tomato-like than nicely roasted. The idea in my recipe is just to bring out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes – high-heat roasting does this so nicely. Speaking of roasted tomatoes … have you ever had them on a sandwich? Deee-licious: and this time of year in the US, grape tomatoes aren’t half bad. (Oh, great, now I want a tomato sandwich … 🙂 )

  8. January 24, 2011 8:33 pm

    I love going up to Haymarket and picking up 10 or 12lbs of gorgeous plum tomatoes, a large bunch of basil, and a pound or two of peeled garlic.

    Take it home, chop it all up, a little salt, pepper and garlic powder and roast! Process down and you get this:

    And finally this:

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 24, 2011 9:20 pm

      So often the simplest preparations are the best – looks delicious!

  9. January 25, 2011 11:34 am

    I love how you roast your tomatoes to add flavor to the soup–and I’m surprised it only takes 15 minutes! Wow. Having never roasted tomatoes before, that was a welcome surprise. I’ll have to give this a whirl.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 26, 2011 8:41 am

      I roast tomatoes for most everything now – I even roasted them when I was canning tomato sauce last Fall.

  10. February 4, 2011 3:18 pm

    Tomato soup is the ultimate comfort food and one of my favorite things in the world; however, I have never made it myself. Going to give this one a try this week. Thanks!


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