Sunday, February 7, 2010

tomato soup

tomato soup

All right, all of you with canned tomato soup in the pantry. You know who I’m talking to and if it’s you, step forward. Don’t be afraid; we’re just going to have a little chat. I promise I won’t single you out, but I want to show you something that might just change your tomato-soup-eating ways. It’ll take just a few more minutes than reheating that sad, thinned-down, canned version, and instead, you will luxuriate in quite possibly the most tomatoey tomato soup ever. And I don’t throw such superlatives lightly.

tomato soup

I owe this soup to my friends Jane and Geoff, mainly Geoff, for the soup is his creation. I tried this soup first when Jane and I were getting ready for a girls’ movie night, and soup was a nice, warm meal to carry us into the chilly evening. We had just had our first snowfall of the season, and it left behind tall snow banks as well as a few icy patches here and there. Soup was the prudent, practical dinner choice before heading out into the cold. But, you know, tomato soup isn’t exactly a dish one loses his mind over. It’s well-loved and is comforting, but doesn’t exactly command a mad legion of obsessed fans, unlike, say a good New England clam chowder does. So I was happy to eat this soup, but I had no idea what was in store for me.

tomato soup

Let’s just say my taste buds did a serious double-take. The clean, intense, undiluted taste of tomato was not what I was expecting. With the first spoon, I was hooked. And by hooked, I mean obsessed. And when I say “obsessed”, I mean I’ve been craving this soup nearly daily for a few months now, but kept forgetting to ask for the recipe. It took getting sick last week and being miserable and grumpy to ask Jane and Geoff for the recipe – I had to have this soup, or else. Grumpiness would ensue for days. Because I don’t get sick often, I turn into a total baby when it actually happens. All I want to do is like on the couch with a blanket and reruns of Law & Order on the television, pout and eat tomato soup. In that order. Normally, I settle for take-out because when I’m sick, I don’t exactly miss cooking. But this time was different. This time, my craving was stronger than my laziness. Besides, this so easy to make, I had no excuses, even with my Rudolph-red nose.

tomato soup

I know – we are busy bunch, especially during the weekdays. Work, family, social events – our lives are planned weeks in advance; we are hungry, run-down, and desperate for more daylight. We want to be warm, we want to be comforted, and some of us (ahem) are still trying to whittle away that tart we indulged in not-so-long ago that has mysteriously glued itself to our thighs and just plain refuses to leave (the nerve!). This is, and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this because this is so not what this site is about, also quite healthy. And delicious. And simple. And comes together in a pinch (a half-hour pinch, to be exact!) with the ingredients that are most likely already stocked in your pantry. While the soup is simmering, you’ve plenty of time to change into your favorite fleece pants (what, no one else besides me has a love affair with those?), pour yourself a glass of wine and settle into your evening.

tomato soup

Once the soup cooks a bit, quick whir of the immersion blender (seriously folks, far be it for me to tell you what a must-have item is, but really, if there is such one thing in the kitchen, the immersion blender it the it-gadget to have, promise!) and you have a velvety smooth, hearty, filling soup, perfect on its own. But, since I’m a girl who loves her accessories, I like to dress mine up with some good ricotta and swirl (or as the picture shows, a lump) of pesto. It look so festive and wintry and pretty in your bowl – kind of like Christmas all over again. But in February. So much the better.

tomato soup

Tomato Soup
Adapted from Jane & Geoff

2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano – and it’s worth the expense)
2 medium or 1 large onions, finely chopped
6-7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Chicken or vegetable stock (16 oz)
1 tsp finely chopped basil

Ricotta (optional)
Pesto (optional)


1. Sautee onion & garlic in olive oil slowly until translucent and softened substantially.

2. In a tall heavy-bottomed pot, add tomatoes and the stock. With a wooden spoon, squish the tomatoes down against the wall of the pot. Stir in basil. Bring to a point where the soup is almost boiling and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes to let the soup thicken.

3. With an immersion blender, blend the soup until all the tomatoes are pureed and the soup is has a smooth consistency.

4. Season with salt and pepper and serve, garnished, if you like with a dollop of ricotta and a swirl of pesto.

Serves 6.

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  • 1
    Jen said:

    Sounds heavenly!

    February 7, 2010 9:57 am
  • 2

    Why not give it a splash of tabasco sauce for some extra warmth? I love the photo of the soup. I am craving the soup right now just thinking of it!

    I believe I know what I am making tonight!

    February 7, 2010 12:49 pm
  • 3
    Radish said:

    Jason – definitely an option. But try the soup first without. It is just so lovely and pure that even though I pretty much put hot sauce on just about everything, I left it as is.

    February 7, 2010 12:58 pm
  • 4

    Oh my! This looks absolutely delicious! Maybe with a croque monsieur on the side for dipping, this soup could definitely be my after school lunch tomorrow. I’ll give it a try! :)

    February 7, 2010 1:12 pm
  • 5
    Jenni said:

    This is exactly how I make my tomato soup, although I dig a healthy splash of Worcestershire and some celery seed. And maybe some heavy cream. Maybe. ;) And I couldn’t agree w/you more about the immersion blender. It is a definite Must Have.

    February 7, 2010 1:17 pm
  • 6
    Tiffany said:

    Kamran wasn’t kidding! This sooo looks yummy and I love tomato soup. And that ingredient list is just enough to keep me from being overwhelmed.

    February 7, 2010 2:27 pm
  • 7
    Liz said:

    Excellent! I’ve been craving tomato soup but I hate the canned stuff. As soon as I have any kind of blender in the house, this is getting made.

    February 7, 2010 7:19 pm
  • 8

    Love affair with fleece pants? *raises hand*
    Fellow obsessive about tomato soup? *raises other hand*

    I ADORE fresh tomato soup so I can understand your excitement about this! It is so easy to make–there is just no excuse for the canned stuff. Thanks for sharing this recipe–I look forward to trying it out, to fuel my tomato soup addiction.

    February 8, 2010 4:43 am
  • 9

    I made this soup for the family last night, and it went over REAL well. The only thing I did really differently was I threw in a couple of Parmesan rinds I had stuffed away in the freezer. It is a trick I got from Nonna.

    The soup was delish! Great job!

    February 8, 2010 6:29 am
  • 10
    Linda McBride said:

    Looks wonderful, can’t wait to make it. It is snowing outside right now and this looks like
    what I should be eating! Thanks

    February 8, 2010 7:33 am
  • 11

    I agree about the immersion blender being useful, but yesterday I made a cheese soup with caramelized onions, I used the immersion blender, and the result was that the soup seemed curdled! I think it’s because the hand-held blender isn’t powerful enough to make the soup ultra-velvety-smooth, so the tiny pieces of onion made the soup have a “curdled” texture. I had to put it in the blender and then all was well; it was kind of funny though.

    February 8, 2010 10:00 am
  • 12
    Radish said:

    Noelle — that’s odd, my immersion blender is a beast. In fact, that’s its nickname – “the beast”. Is yours a wee bit of an older model, perhaps? I got mine last year, so maybe it’s that? Mine purees quite smoothly. Not smooth like a bisque quality but perfect for a smooth soup.

    February 8, 2010 10:38 am
  • 13

    hope you’re feeling better! the last time i made tomato soup, i made quite a mess of myself. i’m inspired to try again now after seeing your stunning photos and hearing your delectable description. love the topped ricotta and pesto, too!

    February 8, 2010 11:34 am
  • 14

    Wonderful recipe. I love to re-examine so-so foods we take for granted (like canned tomato soup) and make them for real, from scratch–and discover what they are actually supposed to taste like.

    February 8, 2010 2:21 pm
  • 15

    weel, thank you for a great idea and a great reminder. I am snowed in today and it was a surprise storm, so I did not lay in supplies for a great day of cooking. But I have everything to make a warm, comforting pot of tomato soup like this. I now feel like I can enjoy this icky, snowy, icy day. Thanks!

    February 8, 2010 2:50 pm
  • 16

    There’s something so comforting about something as simple as tomato soup. Love that you added a bit of pesto and ricotta. I totally agree about San Marzano tomatoes, but you should know that the brand you have in the picture aren’t actually from San Marzano, Italy. The irony is that they’re priced the same or higher than the real thing.

    February 8, 2010 6:09 pm
  • 17
    Radish said:

    Marc – oh no!! I was lied to!! What brand then? I feel like the soup could’ve been so much more!!

    February 8, 2010 6:32 pm
  • 18
    laura said:

    This looks lovely and simple. I admit that my husband and I went through a phase of canned tomato soup and grilled cheese when we were both working later and tired at night. This looks hardly more work and much more delicious!

    February 8, 2010 6:35 pm
  • 19
    DC Sarah said:

    make this. it was wonderful. i topped it off with some of orangette’s “winter pesto” and some parmesan, and it really sealed the deal. also, wonderful that i was snowed in, yet STILL had all the ingredients! that never happens. ever.

    and, hello! finally de-lurking.

    February 9, 2010 7:37 am
  • 20
    Radish said:

    DC Sarah – isn’t it awesome that the ingredients are those already in your pantry? making it a perfect snow-day meal! so glad you liked the soup!! and hello back!!

    February 9, 2010 7:53 am
  • 21
    Scott said:

    I am going to try this simple soup, which I believe is as wonderful and purely tomatoey as you describe… but it will be odd for me to make soup without some celery and carrots in there too! I’m game, though.

    I’m a bit confused about the recipe, where it says add the “first can of stock”. Is there more than one can of stock? And I assume step 1 should start with the heavy bottomed pot, and then later the tomatoes are added to the same pot. The way step 2 starts, it sounds like you’re using a separate pot from step 1. Sorry to be so persnickity!

    February 9, 2010 11:35 am
  • 22

    My immersion blender is a Braun that I got a couple years ago. It works fine for most soups, but for some reason it wasn’t cutting it with that particular soup- I really needed to blitz the heck out of it in the blender to get the result I wanted. It turned out AMAZING though, I’ll post about it soon!

    February 9, 2010 2:40 pm
  • 23

    The color is absolutley amazing! The ricotta and pesto just add the extra something to the soup. I agree with Kamran on having the croque monsieur. Now that is heaven. ;-)

    February 9, 2010 9:45 pm
  • 24

    OK, I do like my tomato soup from a box (Trader Joe’s — tomato and red pepper. It’s really good) but this might make me change my mind. I have a similar cold tomato soup I make in summer that I serve the same way — with a dollop of pesto and ricotta — so I might just have to try this recipe too!

    February 10, 2010 3:45 pm
  • 25
    SaraJane said:

    I am converted. no more cans, I am making this. even if only to steal my roommate’s immersion blender. Love love love.

    February 10, 2010 11:28 pm
  • 26

    I love a thick hearty soup for lunch, especisally when I know that I can have a big(ger) snack for tea! Love the vibrant colour of your soup! And knowing that it got you hooked, I’m definitely having this soon.

    February 12, 2010 3:50 am
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  • 29
    Chitra said:

    this looks so yummy and i love how there are so few ingredients! really great photo:)

    February 12, 2010 2:52 pm
  • 30

    I usually get “Famoso” from WholeFoods, but just read the fine print and make sure it’s from San Marzano:-)

    February 13, 2010 6:09 pm
  • 31
    Angela said:

    Mmmm, Looks delightful for these cold days we’ve got ahead. I have got to find some San Marzano tomatoes soon! I know that makes a big difference, and every time I go to look for them in Whole Foods they seem to be out!
    Maybe today is my day…

    February 16, 2010 9:58 am
  • 32

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  • 34

    instead of tomatoes from can i would put fresh tomatoes in the boiled water then clean em and put into the blender

    February 23, 2010 4:29 am
  • 35
    Radish said:

    Heman – our tomatoes in the US right now are horrible, so better results are achieved with canned tomatoes. Perhaps Israel doesn’t have that issue?

    February 23, 2010 5:44 am
  • 36

    no our tomatoes are perfectly tasty))) seriously.

    February 24, 2010 3:14 am
  • 37
    laura said:

    We tried this last night and it was very delicious. I did not have fresh basil on hand, so I had to skip it, and I do not have an immersion blender, so I left the soup chunky and it turned out beautifully. In our tomato soup meal tradition, we ate it with toasty, oozy grilled cheeses. I will make this again.

    March 2, 2010 8:52 am
  • 38

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    March 3, 2010 3:56 pm
  • 39
    woohag said:

    I just wanted to say that I made this last night using my new immersion blender (a much wanted birthday present) and it was so good! My boyfriend said it was amazing and wants me to make it all the time. It’s a really easy and healthy recipe, so thank you! And the pesto and ricotta made it even better. :)

    March 31, 2010 2:09 pm
  • 40
    Radish said:

    woohag – i’m delighted!! yay!

    March 31, 2010 2:19 pm
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  • 46
    Chris said:

    Throw away the can opener. Make a batch, freeze it and there’s no need for Cambell’s again – Andy Warholl won’t be happy!

    September 17, 2010 3:20 am
  • 47

    Seems like a touch of cold weather and this simple soup is a big craving for a lot of people!

    I do something similar but have been adding roasted garlic and some milk at the end, so no stock in mine and then I garnish with some simple homemade garlic croutons. I just had it the other night and yes…now that I’m reminded think I will again tonight. It’s so easy and so good isn’t it!

    October 21, 2010 7:57 pm
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  • 53
    rochelle said:

    I loved this soup just the way you did it, but wanted something a little more creamy while staying healthy. I added 3 oz. of lite Philadelphia cream cheese at the end and used the immersion blender to smooth everything together. very delicious

    August 7, 2011 10:26 pm
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  • 55
    kellypea said:

    I love San Marzanos and I try to make sure I always have a can in the pantry. So good! Once you make tomato soup from scratch, there’s no going back.

    October 3, 2011 5:50 pm
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  • 61
    Boo Tee said:

    for the person ho said their immersion blender wouldn’t puree onions.. perhaps get a better quality one. my cuisinart one will pulverize concrete

    February 21, 2013 1:49 pm
  • 62
    Pamela said:

    I was wondering can this receipe be converted to cook in a crockpot??

    February 24, 2013 5:26 pm
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  • 66
    AB said:

    I’ve been following your blog for years and always have wonderful results with your recipes (and enjoy reading your posts!). I always get compliments on your Nectarine Golden Cake.

    Quick question: should we strain the canned tomatoes before adding them to the onions/garlic?

    December 17, 2013 11:32 am
  • 67
    olga said:

    AB – thank you for you kind words. No, the tomatoes and the juice go in all together.

    December 17, 2013 11:52 am
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