Quick Tomato Soup

Lunchtime: Tomato soup, Shelburne Farms cheddar cheese, toasted baguette topped with sun-dried tomato salsa

I absolutely adore getting cookbooks out of the library because it means I have an extended time to flip through them and decide whether or not I actually want to purchase them.  Part of that decision making is picking out a few dishes to make as well so when Food Labs showed up, I picked out a few recipes to try and share here. (Author’s site, Amazon, NPR Review) The cookbook itself is pretty fabulous from an educational standpoint.  Tons of explanations about why and how to do stuff with a scientific perspective on the process of cooking.  Its like Julia Child graduated from Cook’s Country + Harvard with a degree in chemistry.  There are a few stunning dishes that are great for hosting but the bulk concentrates on solid home-cooked meals.  Onto the food.

The first dish I picked out was the Tomato Soup to be paired with the grilled cheese.  They were made for dinner so there are no pretty grilled cheese pictures to share.  We doubled up on soup and sandwiches and had about a quart and a half left over after seven people sat down for dinner… The grilled cheeses start out as your basic grilled cheeses: cover the bread in mayo, choose cheeses based on flavors you enjoy and what will melt and use a slow and steady method to grill the bread so that the cheese has time to melt.  Where they became outstanding was the suggestion to sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the first grilled side and quickly re-grill that first side.  Just yum.

They say that it’ll take 15 minutes but we spent a solid half an hour from beginning to end.  Yes, there was a little bit of ingredient hunting in there but not enough to occupy a full 15 minutes.  Still, half an hour for a soup that’ll give me leftovers that are good the next day are more than worth it for me.  Part of the time difference was probably that I hadn’t made the recipe before but the other half was probably that I made a double batch so it just took longer to come to temp.  The changes?  The first was that we used dried herbs.  I’d suggest going with basil to help sweeten the soup and balance it.  The other change was not using alcohol.  This was mostly because I just didn’t have it available.  Whether or not you add the alcohol is entirely preferential.  The only down side to this soup is that it won’t freeze well.  The cream is added early on and would most likely break the soup as it unfroze.  Other than that, its quick, easy and made with pantry ingredients.  What more can you ask for?

In case you needed a close-up of the cheese and bread like I did because it was a surprisingly good pairing

The version of the recipe I’m sharing is abbreviated.  Its a quick and easy soup and wanted to share the recipe as if I were ‘saving’ it on a recipe card:

3 T butter

1 large onion, chopped

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 T AP flour

2 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes with juice

1/2 c dairy: whole milk or heavy cream

2 T vodka, whisky or brandy (optional)

salt and pepper

fresh basil if available

Melt the butter (med saucepan, med-high heat) and cook the onions until soft then add in the dry herbs to awaken.  Add flour and stir until smooth and raw taste is cooked out.  Add the liquids*, making sure to stir the bottom so that the flour doesn’t burn.  Bring to a boil then lower down to a simmer and cook for 3 min.  Blend the soup to desired consistency, season and serve**.

*book says tomatoes first…assuming this is done to add flavor to the dish by essentially browning the tomatoes a bit.  I processed them first because I didn’t have my stick blender available.

**Top with fresh herbs if possible.  Its also suggested that a swirl of EVOO is used to top the soup.  Its good but not necessary

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