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Monday, September 19, 2011

tomato soup

One of my favorite combinations is grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I've liked it since I was a wee little thing.  Once in a while, so I remember, we got away with it on a Friday in lent, instead of having to eat dreaded tartar sauce with a little bit of even more dreaded fish underneath it. Those were the days.

Here is the thing about tomato soup from a can, though. It's really really good, but it doesn't exactly taste like... tomatoes. Nor does it really look like tomatoes. It has it's own color. Once, a friend asked me to help her make some curtains. "They need to go with our new couch," she said. "It's tomato-soup colored." And it was, exactly. It was that odd, almost-red color of tomato soup straight out of the Cambell's soup can. Not tomato-colored, tomato soup-colored.

Anyway, this recipe will definitely fill any nostalgic need you might have for the tomato soup of your youth. It is creamy and sweet, goes great with grilled cheese sandwiches, and just feels like going home. But here's the kick. It also manages to taste like tomatoes! Bonus!

Tomato Soup
This recipe makes enough for 10-12 servings. Plan to freeze some for a future night of easy dinner prep, or make only half.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
8 cups tomatoes, chopped (including juice, skins and seeds)
1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, saute garlic in olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent and soft, (about 8 minutes). Add the tomatoes and bring it to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add vegetable stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Let it cool. When it is relatively cool, add basil. Puree in a blender, a couple cups at a time, until it is an even smooth consistency. Set aside.

Make a roux in the now-empty pot, by melting butter and then stirring in flour until it is a medium brown color. Add the pureed tomato mixture back into the pot. Mix together, and then add in the salt, pepper, vinegar, and cream.

Let it all simmer about 20 minutes more. Serve warm... perhaps with a grilled cheese sandwich?