Thursday, October 18, 2012

Best Tomato Soup

I love tomato soup. Love love love it. Truth be told, it might--in all its simplicity--be my very favorite of all soups. It's the soup I tend to order at restaurants if I'm ordering soup and sadly, it's the soup I'm always a little more pleased about at restaurants than I am at home. Oh, sure, I love all the tomato soups I've posted. They're certainly 70,000 times better than anything that can come out of a can. But I just didn't have that one--that one that made me say, "Eh, I'm not dropping $5 for a small bowl of tomato soup today; I can just make it better at home." (This is what I find myself constantly saying at restaurants--not that I dine 5-star or anything.)

And then a couple of weeks ago, all that changed. I went to a sort of soup potluck at my church at the end of September. In the line-up was a dynamite tomato soup. But how, oh how (imagine some hand-wringing here) would I ever find the one who had made it. And then at the end of the evening, fate took me by the hand and, without even trying, she and I happened to pick up our soups at the same time. Not only that, but when I met her and started unabashedly grilling her about the contents of her soup, she said, "If you'd like, I have it in my email. I could just forward it to you." Yes, I'd like. She pulled out her phone and just like that the recipe was mine. I wanted to kiss her. Fortunately for my new friend (Hi, Kate--no, don't go; I swear I'm not a weirdo) and for all others present, I refrained.

This week I made it. It's perfect. It's simple. It can be pulled together in 30-ish minutes with only 10 of those being active minutes. So, sorry Panera (not really), but I guess it's time to move on (at least from your tomato soup; those croutons you put on top; I'm still seeking to master).

Best Tomato Soup
from Kate the Great (hi Kate--no, really, I'm not that weird and thanks for the recipe)
Makes: 6-10 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes
Cost: $2.15 (this is about $.21/serving)
butter: .25, bacon: .15, carrot: .10, onion: .10, garlic: .05, flour: .02, broth: free if its homemade; from granules, I'm guessing about .25, crushed tomatoes: 1.20, herbs: .03

And now, several notes:
1. If you don't have bacon, I bet lard instead of butter would still give that bacony undertone. That said, who has lard but not bacon.
2. I actually liked this even better before adding the cream and sour cream. If you don't add cream/sour cream, or reduce it substantially, you will need less salt, as the creaminess demands more salt. This is also a bonus to skipping the creams if you wish. Originally, I used 4 1/2 C water with 3 tsp Better than Bullion. After I added the creams, I needed another 1/2 tsp Better than Bullion. In short, if you skip the creams or reduce them a lot, you can probably use reduced sodium broth, or less chicken granules/bullion (or whatever it is you use) or you could use a homemade stock and not need to add as much salt to the mix. That said, some people might love the creamy additions--also they'll keep you full longer if this is a dinner (And don't get me wrong; I certainly liked them; I just liked the soup a wee bit better without them.)
3. If you don't have fresh herbs, just throw in 1/4-1/2 tsp of each as dried herbs.
4. I just used crushed tomatoes from a can, but I'm itching to try some of my home roasted pureed tomatoes. I think it'll be awesome.

4 Tbsp butter (unsalted)
1 slice bacon (just for flavor; you're going to remove this at the end)
1 spanish onion (this is a large, sweet, mild onion; I didn't have one so used 1/2 of a regular yellow onion)
1 carrot
4 cloves garlic
5 Tbsp flour
4 1/2 C chicken broth
1 28-ox can crushed tomatoes (unseasoned)
3 fresh parsley spring
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and fry the slice of bacon. Lower heat to medium or low. Add onion, carrot, and garlic and cover, stirring occasionally until they're softish (about 8 minutes).

Whisk in flour and stir it for 1-2 minutes.

Pour in broth and crushed tomatoes.

Bring to a boil, whisking constantly

Throw herbs in soup.

Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the herb springs and leaf. Let cool slightly and then puree or use an immersion blender.

If desired whisk in cream and sour cream. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.


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