Keepin’ Warm in the Winter

Over my winter break, about a month ago, I made a lot of food to get me through the remaining winter months.  Also, I wanted to use my Christmas gift from Brandon, which you’ll see later in this post. One of the soups I crave during the winter months is cream of tomato.  I have tested several recipes over the years with the tomatoes I grow every summer. The most flavorful recipe I found was Ina Garten’s Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup from her Back to Basics cookbook.  An added bonus: It is good for you too!

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Materials:

  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil (I only used 2)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves) (I added 4-5)
  • 4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (…bought mine)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream(I used fat free half & half)
  • Croutons, for garnish(Try making your own! Day old bread cut into cubes tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown)

Procedure:

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that’s left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or croutons.

Printable Recipe

Storing: I received a Food Saver for Christmas (you’ll find it in my Kitchen Tools I Love page). I was nervous using it with soups for the first time, but it was so easy!  It sucked all the air out and there were only a couple “dribbles” of soup.  However, those drops of soup were extremely easy to clean.  You take the drip pan out, rinse it out and you’re done.  To freeze the vacuum sealed bags, I laid them flat on a cookie sheet and froze them laying down.  Once it was frozen, it was extremely easy to stack and store in the freezer. The larger plastic containers I filled stacked nicely in the freezer too. I’m curious to see if the food saver really does “save” food as long as it says (1-2 years).  I don’t know if I am that patient to wait that long!

Observations: I’ve made this several times and it always turns out great.  The warm, comforting and bold flavors go very well with a grilled sandwich (my favorite is a sharp cheddar and black forest ham).

Analysis: The “hardest” part of this recipe is using the food mill. I am looking into buying a nicer food mill (mine is a cheap one from the Meijer Grocery store. It doesn’t take terribly long, but it isn’t as simple at using an immersion blender.  Either way, the food mill extracts all the flavors you want from the vegetables and herbs and discards the seeds and skins you do not want. You are left with a flavor packed creamy soup.

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