Saturday, September 19, 2015

The (not anything like Campbell's) Cream of Tomato Soup recipe

Let's face it. I could write prose until I'm blue in the face and most people who know me would just say, "Knock it off and cook something."

While writing is an aspiration, cooking I do okay -- save for a few pathetic stabs at vegetarianism in the 90s and some extremely frugal recipes requiring the addition of something called "texturized vegetable protein."* It was a sad, sad time in Linguiniland.

And so...the Tomato Soup recipe. This is the one I made for the cafe. Notes follow.

7 cups crushed tomatoes
1 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 (13.7-oz.) can chicken broth
1 T. sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 T butter
3 T. flour
1 cup heavy cream (have used half-n-half successfully)
2 tsp. dry basil or 2 T. chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. pepper]
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Sweat carrots and onions in olive oil. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Cream mixture with immersible  blender (or food processor or regular blender1).

Add cream.
In a separate pot, melt butter and blend in flour. Add to soup and stir until thickened.
Add herbs and spices and simmer 1 hour. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Just a few caveats:
Since canned tomatoes differ so much between brands and I can't afford to choose one over the other, I don't always use the flour and butter to thicken the soup. If the tomatoes are thick enough, I just splash in the cream (you can use half-n-half too -- which I usually do, since that's what I have around).

Also, the basil is going to vary widely, especially if it's fresh. The 2 T. is based on basil I grew. This last time I used fresh basil from the store and it took the whole package to get it to where I was happy. Just remember that, if you add more, let it simmer at least 10 minutes before tasting again.

So there it is. Too much trouble for soup? After a while it become second nature and goes very quickly. Especially if you do it twice a week for a year or 8 o'clock in the morning before the double shot espresso kicks in. 

*Back in the day, Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP) was a staple in Linguiniland. TVP could replace meat in a myriad of re.cipes, but we only used it to reduce our meat bill as much as possible. By pairing TVP with deer meat( given to us by a member of our church who loved to hunt but whose wife could not bring herself to "eat Bambi"), I was able to slash our food bill to next to nothing ($75 a month for a family of 4). However, the TVP experience is a frequent subject of many nostalgic conversations between the Heirs, usually involving the frequency of bathroom use or as a gauge of how nauseous something made them; as in, "the food poisoning made me run for the bathroom more than TVP;" or "the flu made me throw up more than TVP." Through it all, I insist, I was a good mother.