Thursday, October 27, 2011

Herbed Tomato Soup

Bowl of Tomato Soup
Herbed Tomato Soup

Recipe adapted from Meals for One or Two

It’s the very end of tomato season this year on the central CA coast, so I ordered 10 lbs. of dry-farmed Early Girls from our CSA Farm. That was the smallest quantity I could get. I’m planning to make more baked tomato sauce, perhaps with Armenian bell peppers, but in the meantime remembered making a delicious tomato soup when I first came to Santa Cruz a few decades back. I don’t remember the recipe, except that it contained milk and I kicked it up by adding some red pepper. But this recipe uses neither of those ingredients…I was going to add them, but the soup tasted too good as is.

Ingredients for Tomato Soup with Options
Ingredients and Options
This recipe is from Better Homes and Garden’s 1978 cookbook Meals for One or Two, which is full of good old school recipes like Garden Swiss Steak, Chicken Pot Pies, and Fresh Fruit Crisps. This book has some great ideas for people who live alone and hesitate to cook typical recipes that serve 4 or 6. But beware, many of the “servings” are rather large. I’ve had success doubling many of the recipes too. That does rather defeat the purpose of the book, but I’m the sort of cook who loves having leftovers.

Saucepan with Onion, Tomato, Bouillon, Butter, and Thyme
Next: Crush Tomatoes and Add Water
For this soup I cut the amount of butter in half and eliminated the ½ tsp. salt. You could use olive oil if you like, but there’s something magical about the combination of butter, onion, and tomato, and you might need to add salt if you use the oil. I also substituted veggie bouillon for chicken bouillon. Original recipe says you can substitute 1 lb. canned tomatoes, but garden tomatoes, either fresh or home-canned, will taste best.

This might be good with a touch of cayenne pepper, especially for supper on a cold autumn night.

Bowl of Tomato Soup with Yogurt Dollop
Garnished with Basil and Yogurt
Herbed Tomato Soup
makes 4 cups

½ c. chopped onion (1 medium)
1 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. flour
1 lb. ripe tomatoes
1 ½ tbsp. snipped fresh basil
2 tsp. instant veggie bouillon granules
½ tsp. dry thyme, crushed
2 c. water
Sour cream or yogurt (optional garnish)

Peel tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to plunge them into boiling water for 15 seconds then scoop them out into chilled water. This splits and loosens the skin, so it can be removed easily. Cut skinned tomatoes into quarters.

In a 2-quart saucepan, cook onion in butter until golden but not brown. Blend in flour. Stir in tomatoes, bouillon, and thyme. Mash tomatoes slightly. Stir in water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in basil. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

Use immersion blender to puree soup. (Original recipe says to use regular blender and reheat the soup afterwards.) Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with sprig of basil or thyme and dollop of sour cream or yogurt if desired.

Update November 4, 2011: I forgot to use the immersion blender before serving this tonight. Soup came out semi-chunky, a good alternative to smooth, especially if you don't have an immersion blender handy. I also substituted fresh oregano for the basil.

Update November 8, 2011:  I added two medium-hot padrone chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped, with the tomatoes for a spicy tomato soup. If you like it extra-spicy, you could include the seeds or use hotter peppers, like red Thai chilis. I also substituted fresh oregano, about 3/4 tsp. minced, for the dry thyme, and added it at the same time as the basil.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with your own variations! 

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