I’ve never made my own tomato soup before. I have, however, consumed approximately 8,000,000 cans of tomato soup over the last 2, almost 3 decades. I’m sure that’s not much of an exaggeration, either. It’s kind of ironic how much I love tomato soup and all tomato products because until recently, I wouldn’t touch a raw tomato with a 10-foot pole. I’ve since matured drastically in a culinary sense (I’ve even started eating mushrooms! Gasp!) and no longer sneer at tomatoes, even gone as far as ceasing to pick them off of menu items. So lately it’s occurred to me that it’s high time to finally make my own tomato soup, for once and for all.
Are you starting to worry that this is becoming more of a blog on soup than it is on preserving? Me too. I have an addiction!
But in my defense, it was a pretty crappy day.
No sun in sight. Rain, dreariness, inside activities. All signs that point toward soup.
Okay, here’s the scoop: Everyone has a thing, right? Well, I go in phases. I guess you could even say phases are my thing. The phase I’m going through right now is that commercially canned foods are from the devil because of BPA, even though I’m not even entirely sure what BPA is or why it’s from the devil. (You can read the link, but if you’re like me all you’ll get from that is “don’t eat it, it’s from the devil”) But whatever, that’s my thing. So anyway, the point of telling you that is because I had a really hard time finding tomato soup recipes that were truly from scratch. They all used canned tomatoes, which are apparently some of the worst offenders for the whole BPA thing, so obviously I don’t want to use them.
So here’s a quick tutorial on making tomato sauce. We’ll revisit this in about a month when the tomatoes are in season, but they’re pretty cheap in the stores right now anyway, so maybe this is useful information now!
Tomato Sauce (makes about 1 quart)
What you will need:
- 8 big juicy tomatoes, like beefsteak or big boys
- 8 Roma tomatoes
- a strainer
- a food processor
- a pot
- a plethora of paper towels or a heavy duty sponge
The first step is to wash the tomatoes. Next, we’re going to blanch them to remove the peels easier. You do this by bringing a pot of water to a boil. For the larger tomatoes, you might want to cut them in half, but it’s not necessary. Just a little easier. Once the water is boiling, you carefully place the tomatoes in the water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Then remove them, and with a tongs or a fork, peel the skin away. It should peel away without much effort. If it’s still sticking, return the tomato to the boiling water for another 30 seconds. You can technically skip this step since we’re going to strain the tomatoes anyway, but I think it makes straining so much easier to get rid of the peels first.
Next, empty the water from the pan, cut up the tomatoes into halves or quarters and return them to the empty pan.
Heat, stirring often, over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until they look like this:
This is when I start salivating, and my husband – who worked in a tomato factory as a teen – leaves the house. Once the tomatoes have boiled down to a chunky sauce, turn the heat off and bring out the food processor. Load up the food processor and puree the tomatoes. Depending on the size of your processor, you may need empty and re-load to process all the tomatoes.
Now it’s time to strain out the seeds! The best way I’ve found to do this is by using a strainer. (Go figure) Ladle one or two scoops of puree at a time into the strainer, and hold over an empty bowl or pan. BANG the strainer on the bowl to get all the “meat” through. This is much faster and more effective than pressing the puree with a spoon. It does make a little bit of a mess, but that’s what the sponge is for!
This is what the strainer should look like after you’ve smacked all the meat out of it:
Just the seeds and whatever didn’t boil down is left! All the good saucy meat made it through! Once you’ve done this to all of the puree, return the sauce to the stove and bring to a boil.
Now, from this point, if you just want sauce, you’ll bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about an hour until the sauce is the consistency you prefer. From here you could can the sauce or freeze if you aren’t going to immediately use it.
But since we are going to immediately use it, go ahead and let it simmer down for 30 minutes or so, or until it’s thicker than a soup consistency. Now we make soup! I used this recipe for the base of my soup.
Tomato Basil Soup
What you will need:
- 1 Quart Tomato Sauce
- This Recipe for Tomato Basil Soup, substituting homemade tomato sauce for the cans of tomatoes.
- 1/2 to 1 cup Shredded Cheese
Follow the directions from the above link, substituting the tomato sauce for the cans of tomatoes. Add the cheese to the soup at the very end while the soup is simmering hot and allow it to completely melt and become one with the soup. It really adds a heartiness and amps up the “comfort” level (aka, calories…) of the soup!
It turned out really good, although in typical Chelsea fashion it was a little trial by error. I started with only about a pint of sauce so it wasn’t a rich enough “tomato” flavor for me, but once I added more sauce I liked it. You can skip my sauce and just make it with cans of devil tomatoes like the recipe calls for, which is probably more accurate than my rendition. We got several meals out of this! The first meal was served with a hunk of homemade bread (which I almost burned, but still turned out pretty good), another meal was served with lemon cream pasta (which I added sauteed garlic too…a must!), and the last meal was served on this rainy June day with…duh…grilled cheese! As I was making grilled cheese I got feisty and threw some cheddar into the soup as it was heating up (Ok, I’m lying. It wasn’t cheddar. It was fake plastic American cheese. Also from the devil, but somehow not a part of my current thing.) and that made all the difference in the world! Now imagine if I had used real cheddar! That didn’t surprise my husband at all when I did that because I’m well known for adding half a block of shredded cheese to my tomato soup. So rather than make you discover this happy pairing by perchance, I figured I’d just add it to the recipe.
An Important Afterthought
Oh yeah! This is a food preservation blog… I keep getting distracted by recipes and the actual consuming of the food! If you want to make up a bunch and pressure-can it, do not add the cream. That has to be added as you heat it because it’s not recommended to can dairy. If you choose to can this soup, process quarts at 10 lbs pressure for 30 minutes and pints for 25 minutes. You could also eliminate the carrots and chicken broth and can it in a water-boiling canner, processing quarts for 40 minutes and pints for 35. Either way, pressure-canned or water-boiled, you do need to add 2 Tbsp to quarts and 1 Tbsp to pints of bottled lemon juice (fresh squeezed lemon juice doesn’t contain the appropriate amount of acidity). If canning is not for you, you can always freeze it! I ended up adding the cream to mine and freezing it, because as a life-long yo-yo dieter I just don’t make a habit of keeping cream in the house, so I wanted to use it all before it a) went bad or b) tempted me to dip chocolate chip cookies in it.