We had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year (2010) both at the house and at camp. I made tomato juice, stewed tomatoes and today for the first time ever I decided to make a homemade cream of tomato soup. It was a very good decision.
I read four different recipes from cookbooks that I trust and as usual I created my own combination of ingredients and procedures to obtain what seemed best to me. Thus, this recipe resulted. It came out really good but it also took some work.
Be sure to read the variations at the end of this recipe before making the soup as the timing of adding milk or cream can depend on how you plan to store the soup.
Ingredients: (makes one gallon of soup)
20 medium to large vine ripened tomatoes (We grew Big Boy® and Better Boy® varieties)
2 cans of evaporated milk or 28 ounces of regular milk
1 14 oz. can of chicken broth
½ cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. of Sea salt
¾ tsp. of Black pepper
2 oz. of Texas Pete’s® Hot Sauce
4 tbsp. of Cornstarch
5 cloves of fresh garlic finely diced
½ very large russet potato
1 cup of finely chopped celery
1 ½ cups of diced sweet onion
½ cup of diced sweet red pepper
2 tbsp. of sugar
4 tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pint of Ray’s homemade tomato juice (or a 12 oz. can of tomato or V8 juice)
½ tsp. of Red pepper flakes
Oyster crackers or saltine crackers
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the celery, sweet red pepper and onion, mix with the oil and cover the skillet. Stir every few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the finely diced garlic, mix well and continue heating for two minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the skillet covered.
Cut the tomatoes into quarters and put them into a large soup pot. Add the tomato juice and the chicken broth. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, hot sauce, cilantro and red pepper flakes. Mix and heat to a boil, covered, on high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 30 minutes.
Use a colander to extract the juice and the pulp from the simmered mixture, transferring the extract to a large bowl. Discard the seeds, skins and any ingredient that does not process through the colander. When finished, rinse the soup pot. Puree the soup from the bowl in batches with a blender, putting each blended batch back into the rinsed soup pot.
Heat the soup pot contents on medium heat. Add one can of evaporated or regular milk and mix well. Use the other can of evaporated milk or regular milk and mix it with the cornstarch in a separate bowl, then add the mixture to the soup pot and mix very well. Increase the heat to high and stir the soup slowly but continuously until it comes to a boil. Boil on low for two minutes while continuing to mix the soup.
Turn the heat off and cover the soup pot with a lid and allow it to cool for fifteen minutes. Mix the contents and eat whatever you want and refrigerate the remainder in a large covered bowl. The next day you can process the chilled soup in whatever manner you like. I vacuum seal bags of the soup in two to three cup quantities and freeze them for later use.
My best recommendation is to make this soup without milk of any kind or cream, then vacuum seal cold amounts of one to three cups and freeze it for later use. When it is time to use it, thaw it in the microwave oven, put it into a blender and then add the cream and/or milk. Blend well and then heat to a simmer in a saucepan and then serve the soup. It will be perfect.
The flavors that come through in this soup are stunningly good, as is the consistency. I guarantee you will enjoy it far better than any commercial product and rate it at the top with any high quality restaurant offering of cream of tomato soup. The spices "kick it up a notch," as Emeril would say. Serve the soup with oyster crackers or saltine crackers.
What a delightful way to use excess very ripe tomatoes!
You will note that my original recipe contained no cream, merely evaporated or regular milk. Feel free to substitute light or heavy cream for one or both cans of the evaporated or regular milk. After tasting the soup my way, you may decide to add additional cream anyway as the soup flavor per the above recipe is robust and some added cream won’t hurt it at all. Do note that soups containing cream typically do not fare very well in the freezer. In short, if you use cream then try to consume the soup quickly, or, don’t add the cream until you are heating the soup just before serving it. Oh, yes … that works very well.