Tomato Soup

I have a confession. I really like Campbell's tomato soup. I always have and I suspect I always will. Heat up a can of that tomato goodness and serve it alongside a wonder bread grilled cheese sandwich (of course using American cheese singles, you know, the ones in plastic) and I am a happy girl. It seems like such a contradiction. I'm the girl who makes grilled cheese sandwiches with artisan bread and clothbound cheddar. I'm the girl who avoids pre-made, processed foods whenever possible. I champion made-from-scratch home cooking, and yet, canned tomato soup (and yes, boxed mac & cheese) still make my crave-able list.

I'm not going to claim that this soup is a fake-out replacement for the canned stuff. It isn't. For better or worse, nothing else tastes exactly like Campbell's tomato soup. But it is a really darn tasty soup that satisfies my craving for the aforementioned stuff in the can. This recipe makes two big bowls of soup. I can eat the entire batch myself, but would consider the recipe for two if you are serving grilled cheese sandwiches alongside, or four if you are serving little ones. You can also use an immersion blender or food processor at the end, but a blender makes a much smoother/creamier final texture that I think is very important.

Tomato Soup for Two
You can make a ton of substitutions to this recipe. I like the flavor of butter, but olive oil works well. I used dried Italian Herb mix and dried basil, but feel free to omit or replace with fresh herbs. I also like ample black pepper sprinkled at the end and garnish with sour cream. If you like your soup creamier or cheesier, you can add some heavy cream in the end or garnish with shredded cheese. As I said before, I keep it simple and love it with a grilled cheese sandwich.

3 tblsps butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
1 tbslp AP flour
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 cup (approx) chicken stock
Dried or fresh herbs, optional, to taste
Sugar/salt/pepper, to taste

So the recipe starts pretty simply, melt the butter and add your onion, carrot and garlic. Cook over medium low heat until the veggies are soft, approx 10 minutes. You aren't trying to brown them, just get them softened and releasing their flavor.

Once the veggies are soft, it's time to add the flour. Sprinkle it over the top and stir it in. You don't want any lumps. It needs to cook a couple of minutes and then it's time to add the chicken stock and tomatoes. I also add about a third of a can of water to the soup to get all the tomato goodness in there. Here is when you'd add your dried or fresh herbs. I used 1 tsp each of Italian herb mix and dried basil. Thyme and bay would also be really nice, although the soup is tasty even if you use no herbs at all. Stir everything together and bring it to a boil.

From here you want to simmer the mixture for at least 45 minutes. All that is left is pureeing everything in a blender and tasting.

A few tips for blending hot soup. Do not fill your blender more than half full. This is a hot liquid and it can explode all over you and your kitchen if you overfill. Also, use a towel to hold the top cover while blending. Steam can build up, and trust me, it's hot. Other than that, blend away. Once it is all smooth, I return it to the pot and add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Depending on the brand of tomatoes you use, the size and sweetness of your carrot and onion, etc, it could need any of the three and I often use honey instead of sugar. All that's left is to put it in bowls, garnish, and eat.

Simple soup, but it's mmm, mmm, good!

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