Monday 9 January 2012

Pantry Shelf Tomato Soup

Don’t you love tomato soup?  I sure do, and so do most of the people I know.  Just the mention of it summons a seemingly endless parade of childhood memories. 

The tomato soup of my childhood came in a familiar red and white tin.  Mom mixed it with milk before reheating it, and we always filled our soup bowls to the brim with crumbled saltines.  I loved it.  I still do.

I will always have a soft spot for that tinned tomato soup but now I have a new love; another tomato soup that I make myself, from ingredients I keep in my pantry.  It has no milk in it at all and is thickened with bread, like a gazpacho.  Leaving out the milk gives the soup a much brighter flavour.

The recipe for this soup comes from “Cook’s Illustrated Soups and Stews,” April 2011 edition.  I’ve changed it around a little but the techniques and most of the ingredients remain the same. 

To make Pantry Shelf Tomato Soup, you’ll need:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut to a medium dice (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1 – 796 milliliter (28 ounce) tin whole tomatoes (see note, below)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 thick slices of white bread, with the crusts removed, torn into chunks approximately 1 inch square
  • 1 cup chicken stock
Begin by sautéing the onion, garlic, and pepper flakes (if you’re using them) in about 1 Tablespoon of the oil.  Cook them until the onion has softened and become translucent. 

Add in the bay leaves, tomatoes, and brown sugar.   If you've used whole tomatoes, use a potato masher or your hands to break the tomatoes into pieces that are 2 inches square or smaller.

Heat the tomato mixture to a boil.  Once it’s hot, mix the bread chunks in, and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook for 4 or 5 minutes, until the bread begins to break down.

Working with one half of the cooked mixture at a time, purée the soup.  If it’s too thick to purée easily, add in some of the chicken stock to help it along.  Remove any seeds and bits of onion and garlic not broken down by the blender by forcing the purée through a sieve. 

Wash the soup pot and then return the strained purée to the pot.  Stir in the remainder of the chicken stock, then heat the soup through.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt as needed.

Serve the soup in individual bowls, garnishing each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked black pepper.   

Chopped chives or parsley make nice garnishes too.

Make sure you have something for dunking in the soup.  I served ours with cottage cheese and dill dinner rolls.  Perfect comfort food.

Note:  I had no whole tomatoes in the pantry so I used crushed tomatoes..  They worked, but whole tomatoes do make a better soup.  Crushed tomatoes contain added calcium chloride.  It helps prevent them from breaking down but also results in a more acidic flavour.  Whole tomatoes don't contain calcium chloride so they provide a smoother, more mellow taste.


This recipe is linked to Manic Monday at Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen.

1 comment:

Angela said...

I saw this soup on "America's Text Kitchen" and made it. It was very good, but somehow it fell out of my rotation. I'll have to go search that recipe out again.