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Friday, March 8, 2013

Hmmm ... Simple Tomato Soup

It's Friday!!!  And Lent!  So no meat today, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer.  Thick, rich tomato soup with a grilled cheese is just what the wife ordered.  And hubby, who ONLY likes Campbell's Tomato Soup with a dash of milk AND a whole lot of pepper, totally agrees that this should be our go to tomato soup recipe from now on.

I was originally going to make salmon patties but REALLY didn't want to figure out a side.  Salad is always a given but mac and cheese, though traditional, is not what I wanted.  So instead I went looking in the pantry.  Problem is Friday's are early days for hubby to leave for work SO it has to be something quick or something that can be heated up but still taste like you just made it.  I have NO problem with left overs but I always want to provide a good meal to hubby.  Having already made and frozen homemade gravy (meat sauce) and some marinara I noticed that I have some canned tomatoes left.  I also noticed the Campbell's tomato soup, yes I keep some on hand just for hubby.  I have nothing against canned soup per say BUT I really don't like canned tomato soup.  For me Campbell's is sweet and others kind of have a tinny taste to them, at least in my opinion.  Then I thought "Hey it can't be that hard to make tomato soup from scratch right?"  So off I went looking for a recipe.  Figured I'd make it the night before because like all soups, stews, and chilies the more they sit the better their flavors meld and taste oh so much better.

So I found a simple recipe, yes it's even in the description, for tomato soup.  Since it was my first time making it I didn't tweak it too much.  I pretty much followed the recipe this first time and Heidi at Food Doodles had a wonderful one!  (http://fooddoodles.com/2012/02/24/simple-tomato-soup/)   Here is the result of my take on it:

Simple Tomato Soup

Serves 4

2 tbsp butter (or oil)
1 onion, this depends on if you will pureeing the soup.  I did a rough chop as I pureed because I used whole tomatoes.
3 cloves garlic, again this depends the puree non puree step.  I used my garlic press.
1 32 oz can of tomatoes, pureed, diced or whole
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 large bay leaf
Black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste (I did not use any salt in mine and it came out VERY tasty.  Hubby is borderline on the blood pressure so the less I use salt the better. :0))
1 tbsp fresh basil  Here I use dried as fresh is out of season for us plus I didn't find any good looking stuff at the store.  
1 tbsp honey
whole milk or cream to serve if desired(about 2-4 tbsp per serving depending on how you like it)

In a small to medium sized pot, melt the butter(or just heat the oil) over medium heat.  
If you have no way to blend your soup once cooked, finely chop your onion and very finely mince your garlic, otherwise, just slice it to saute it quickly.  
Add the onion to the pot, stir well and saute for 5-6 minutes before adding the garlic.  Again, stir well and saute for 2-3 minutes.  
Add the tomatoes, baking soda, parsley, bay leaf and salt and pepper.  
Bring up to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes or so over medium low heat.  
VERY IMPORTANT:  The baking soda will foam up, just make sure your pot as a couple inches of extra room until it calms down.  The baking soda will help neutralize the acids from the canned tomatoes and you wont taste it at all.  
Remove the bay leaf from the soup and puree.  I use my food processor, but you can also transfer the soup to a blender to blend it until smooth, or if you chopped your onions and garlic finely enough and used tomato puree you can omit this step for a soup that isn’t as smooth.  
Once blended place back into the pot, stir in the honey and fresh basil and check for seasonings, adding salt as needed.  
I did a quick drizzle around the pot after reheating it and it came out just great!  

Remember that when you are using dried herbs: measure them out, I use the same amount as fresh and crush them before putting them in.  This activates the oils that were stored during the drying process and makes them more flavorful and fragrant.  Yes they are not as full flavored as the fresh but they do in a pinch.  

Add a grilled cheese on wheat bread and you have a meal fit for a hubby ... and the wife.  This is definitely going into the approved recipe folder.  Remember to taste your food throughout the process.  Some people will like more pepper some might want more garlic some might want to put something else like crushed red pepper in it but no matter what you decide to add or change the best ingredient to any recipe is you .... Enjoy!!!!!