One of the simple pleasures in life is a bowl of real (not Campbell’s) Tomato Soup. Thankfully one can make homemade tomato soup with ten minutes of prep work and 40 minutes of cooking time. If you haven’t yet discovered San Marzano Italian canned tomatoes, you must look for them in your local store. They are leagues better than American canned tomatoes. They pick the tomatoes at the height of the season when they are bursting with flavor and process them immediately. The difference is stunning. I use the crushed tomatoes for this soup, but the whole tomatoes work just as well since the whole thing goes in the blender in the end. This is another recipe from my friend Chef Anne. As usual it is simple, straight-forward and full, full, FULL of flavor.
Creamy Tomato Soup (serves 6-8)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced
- 1 large leek, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 2 (28-ounce) cans tomatoes, preferably San Marzano Italian tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- ½ cup heavy cream
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are completely soft and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
Add tomatoes and juices to the pan and stir to crush up tomatoes, if using whole ones. Add broth or water and thyme and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat, discard the thyme sprigs, and allow the soup to cool slightly. Carefully purée the soup in a blender until very smooth (you may have to do this in batches). Anne says to strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve, pushing down on the solids with a ladle to extract as much liquid as possible. I must admit I skipped this part of the recipe. If pushed to complete honesty, I will also admit that I’ve never seeded tomatoes when the recipe says “seed and chop,” I just chop. It’s one of my limitations. At least I admit it up front. I just returned the soup to the stove, turned the heat to low and added the cream. I felt it needed a teaspoon of salt. Taste it yourself and decide.
My children think homemade tomato soup is naked without croutons. If you agree, try my super simple crouton recipe and throw a handful of them on top of each serving.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6-8 slices good quality artisan bread (I use La Brea Bakery Rosemary Bread) cut into cubes – I leave the crusts on – I hate to waste them and they taste good)
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter. Combine the butter and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the bread and toss until well coated. Sprinkle the spices on top and toss again. Spread the cubes on a large cookie sheet in a single layer. Pop in the oven and bake, turning once, until the bread is just golden (approx. 10 mins). We like our croutons HOT so we do this just before we serve the soup. You can also re-heat the croutons the next day by placing them in a toaster oven on tin foil briefly (don’t microwave them – they’ll get soggy and nasty).