I must have put away at least 20 pounds of tomatoes this summer. One of my super-duper-favorite foods. Sliced, baked, roasted, pureed, cherry, heirloom, roma, whatevs, I love them all.
So it's always amusing to me when I get Cream of Tomato Souplust, because it's never during the summer, when it would be AWESOME. It's always Fall, often Winter, many times around Christmas. And once they start, they continue for months, and I pretty much eat a bowl a week (at least), with toast, or cheese sammiches, or Ritz.
So I'm left using canned 'maters to make this favorite soup. Which has made me a bit of a Canned Tomato fascist - to qualify for the Pot, you must:
Have no added herbs (I must have control! Aaaargh)
No added sugar
Little-to-no added salt
Minimal Citric Acid (which is often there to preserve redness, yeesh)
Hard to qualify, I know. Pomi used to be my brand of choice before moving South - but it's so damned expensive down here that I've had to explore other possibilities. And, once again, Trader Joe's saves the day by stocking organic, chopped tomatoes with little additives for less than I paid for Pomi up in NYC. So that's what I use. For everything red - pasta sauce, minestrone, lasagna, chili, all of it. Ah, TJ's, you make life easier.
Simple Winter Tomato Soup
6 servings, give or take
2 large cans chopped tomatoes, in juice, no additives
1 small can tomato paste (optional - just for thickness)
2 celery ribs
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion
6 cloves garlic
Dash white wine
5 fresh sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1.5 tablespoons honey
1 2-cup veggie bouillion cube or 1.5 tablespoons salt
1.5 cups half and half or 1 cup heavy cream
Melt your butter in a small soup pot and add onion, celery, and garlic. Saute until celery softens, about 5 minutes.
Add your wine, stir, and cook 2 minutes. Add your tomatoes and juice, paste if using, herbs, and bouillion cube. Stir well and cover. Bring to a simmer. Cook 45 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
Remove the rosemary and sage. Add you honey and taste for flavor. Salt should slightly dominate sweet. Remember that cream has a slight sweetness, so resist adding more honey.
Using an immersion blender if smoothness isn't a big deal, or a real blender if it is, puree the soup until smooth. In a blender, this will take 2-3 minutes, and you'll want to rinse out your pot before returning your pureed soup to it.
Ladle 2 large spoonfuls of soup into each bowl and carefully pour cream in a swirl over each serving (alternatively, you could just add all the cream to the soup in the pot and mix there. Swirls are pretty, though!). Serve with a starch of your choosing - toasty English muffins, cornbread, grilled cheese, it's all delish.