Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer's Bounty: Sweet Cream of Tomato Soup

In the spirit of fair season and the end of summer, here's another recipe, as promised. I do have to warn you though. If you make this Sweet Cream of Tomato, you will never settle for Campbell's again.

I've been making this soup by the ton this summer. In fact, I have some on the stove right now. Trust me when I tell you that it smells divine!

I've been freezing the soup base for use in the long winter months ahead. It is a great way to put some of your summer bumper crop of tomatoes to good use.

Or, in my case, to put someone else's bumper crop of tomatoes to good use.

This year my tomatoes were downright pathetic. Despite planting five plants, I have harvested exactly three tomatoes, and I probably will only get another half dozen. So sad.

Look, there are tomatoes number 4 and 5!

Apparently my poor little plants don't like the new bed I put them in. I think they don't get enough sun, so next year it's back into the garden in the middle of the yard for them.

Fortunately, other gardeners fared much better than I did and shared their goodies with me. That, and I'm keeping the local farmer's market in business.

Here's the recipe, with credit to the Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis. It's a cookbook well worth owning. I go back to it over and over for several recipes.

Sweet Cream of Tomato Soup
3 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup water
1/2 bunch celery (about 6 ribs), trimmed and chopped
6 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons coarse (kosher) salt
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk

1. Place onions and water in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, until onions have softened and have begun to turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Be sure onions don't brown.

2. Add the celery, tomatoes and salt to the onions, stir, and raise heat to medium. Cook, covered, until the tomatoes are tender, about 1 hour. Taste and add sugar to smooth out the flavor. Cook another 5 minutes.

3. In a small bowl mix together butter and flour until thoroughly combined.

4. Strain the soup, discarding solids. Return soup to pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir 1 cup of soup into flour and butter mixture, whisking until there are no lumps. Then whisk that mixture into the soup. Lower heat and cook gently, stirring frequently, until soup has consistency of medium-thick gravy, about 8 minutes. Let it come just to the boiling point, but do not boil.

5. Heat milk in a small pan over medium heat until it is almost to the boiling point. Slowly add the milk to soup (do not let the soup boil, or it may curdle). Stir well and serve.

12 cups (8-10 servings)

Note: The soup base (through step 4) may be canned or frozen. After thawing (if necessary) and reheating, add 1 cup hot milk to each 2 cups of soup base, as described in step 5.

This is a bit more homemade than the Oreo brownies (which probably wouldn't pass muster as a 4-H project). The recipe looks long, but it really is pretty simple. Trust me. If it weren't, I wouldn't be making it.

Make this soup. You'll thank me this winter when you pull this out of your freezer and enjoy the taste of summer.

Of course, you'll curse me next summer when you double the number of tomatoes you plant so you can make this soup...but at least you'll love me for a little while.


Judy said...

You've been talking about this soup for years. I wondered what's the big deal... so time to give it a try. Heavenly! I froze my second batch this weekend and there's only one of me to feed this winter. And by the way my potted patio tomato produced far beyond your plant,,,,wish I could get my photos through email to you. I'm techno challenged so you'll see the pic in Oct.

Noelle said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe! I love tomato soup and can't wait to try it. My mom is helping with the supplies but I have to give her half...fair trade. Thanks again!

Michelle and Stefan said...

I used your recipe, and LOVE this soup! I just made a double batch, and I consumed about 1/4 of it before it even made it to the refrigerator. Will be freezing a bunch of it. Thanks! Michelle (Sis Judy's friend)