Is there anything better than tomato soup on a cold day? Tomato soup really is a comfort food for me. I’m sure it can’t be as good as my memories serve me, but a can of tomato soup used to be a favorite treat when I was growing up.
However, as I’ve grown up, I have (sadly) learned that tater tots, cotton candy, gummy bears and Chuck E. Cheese pizza really aren’t THAT good. (Well, maybe not the gummy bears…) Either way, I find myself longing for those cherished bowls of tomato soup with grilled cheese.
Fortunately, I have a wonderful tomato soup recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten (LOVE her). Ina’s Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup is so good. I have already converted two “I don’t really like tomato soup” believers (one, of course, was Dustin) into “I’ll have a second helping of that” fans. Is there a better testament to how good this soup is? Dustin actually requests this soup now.
The trick, I found, is to use good, fresh tomatoes on the vine and good quality, if not homemade, chicken stock. If you have a bountiful tomato garden at your disposal, all the better! You won’t be sorry. Also, Ina recommends you use a food mill, but my Immersion Blender works wonderfully and I actually like the little bits of goodness that the food mill would filter out.
This soup could easily be converted to be vegetarian or vegan by exchanging the chicken stock for vegetable stock and the heavy cream for soy milk. Combine this soup with some croutons and a grilled cheese sandwich or even a hot, buttered roll and you’ve got yourself a good thing going. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!
Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
Croutons, for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
Add the cream to the soup and blend either with food mill, immersion blender, blender or food processor. If using food mill, discard only the dry pulp that’s left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or croutons.