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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tomato Soup

I am not a Campbell's tomato soup fan, but I do like homemade tomato soup, especially with summer-ripe garden tomatoes.  If you can or freeze, a pint of homemade soup boiled to half its volume will replace a can of store-bought concentrated soup for recipes that call for it.  Just leave out the milk for all make-ahead preparations, and add 1 tbsp per cup of soup when you reheat it.

I have a couple of favorite recipes, but here's the most versatile of the bunch.  You can peel and seed the tomatoes before proceeding with the recipe which saves a good bit of straining at the end, or skip this step (especially if you're only doing a small batch of soup) and sieve out seeds and skin at the end.  You can also choose to roast or not to, depends on your time frame and preference.  For putting up, you can freeze or can...if you can a soup made with a stock (be it beef, chicken or vegetable), you really should pressure-can...although before I knew what I know now, I canned tomato soup containing chicken broth in a boiling water bath and have lived to tell the tale.  So do as you will.

Cored and "X"d tomatoes
Peeling tomatoes is not hard (especially compared to sieving 3 gallons of soup a ladleful at a time).  To peel tomatoes, take a small paring knife and cut the stem out in a cone-shaped cut.  Cut a shallow "X" on the bottom of the tomato and slice lightly across any cracked bits of skin (important if you're using heirloom or homegrown tomatoes which tend to be tastier but also less "perfect" than store-bought). 

Parboiled, in the cold water bath
Bring a gigantic pot of water to the boil (or a smaller one, but give yourself time to let the water reheat between batches), and drop the prepped tomatoes in.  Have another large pot filled with ice and water at the ready.  Boil the tomatoes 1-2 minutes.  Keep an eye on them, and pull the ones whose skins peel back first.  Different varieties, different stages of ripeness affect how long the tomatoes need to boil before they start peeling.  Pull tomatoes as they begin to peel, and leave the tougher ones a minute or two more.  Drop them right into the cold water, partly to keep from cooking the bejeepers out of them and partly to make them easy to handle quickly. 

Peeled "zombie" tomatoes
Once all your tomatoes are chilly, start pulling the skins off.  It's kinda like peeling a sunburn ::blark::  Don't worry if you don't get every bit of skin.  To seed them, just squish the tomatoes like they're stress balls.  Cut big ones in half before squashing them silly.  Don't worry if you don't get every last seed out.  Now you'll have a pile of really horrifying-looking but delicious seeded, skinned tomatoes.  Proceed with your recipe.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Makes 8 1-cup servings (or 2 quarts)

4 lbs. tomatoes, peeled and seeded (see above)
6 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tsp sugar
3 cups chicken or veggie stock
1/2 cup cream or milk (optional)

Toss tomatoes and garlic cloves with oil, salt and pepper.  Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast at 350F for 1 hour.

Melt butter over medium-low heat and saute onion, oregano and sugar until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic, stock and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Puree soup with a stick blender or in batches in a stand blender.  Strain if desired (or if you didn't peel/seed the tomatoes beforehand).  Stir in milk/cream if using (omit if preparing soup for freezing or canning and add 1 tbsp milk per cup reheated)

To can, leave 1/2" headspace in pint or quart jars and process in a pressure canner (following manufacturer's preparation instructions) for 60 minutes/pints or 75 minutes/quarts at 10 lbs. pressure.  Pin It

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