A Tomato Soup That Even I Like
For the longest times, I didn’t like tomatoes. Ok, I liked a a good tomato based pasta sauce, I liked chili, I even used fresh tomatoes in my own homemade chili. But put them in a salad or on a sandwich? No way. That’s slowly been changing over the last few years, but one thing has remained consistent, I just could never get into tomato soup.
Until the other night.
I really enjoy Sam the Cooking Guy. I’ve got one of his books and been watching the Live Cast videos he’s been doing on his website. The other day I caught one where he did from around Thanksgiving about some various appetizer type foods, including some grilled cheese and tomato soup. Now one of the things I like about Sam is his no-nonsense approach, but also his willingness to experiment, to set things up for easy substitutions… both in what goes in to a recipe, but also what the final result gets turned into.
In the case of this tomato soup, I figured if I didn’t like it… with some minor modification I could turn it into pasta sauce or something. In the end, it may not last that long… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
This all starts out with a can of whole, peeled tomatoes. I think this is actually the first time I may have bout them, but instead of the typical plum tomato, I searched out a specific kind sometimes known as pomodori pelati, or San Marzano tomatoes. They’re still a plum tomato, but are an Italian, heirloom variety. I found this Mutti brand at my local grocery store.
Sam’s recipe used onion, I decided to grab a shallot when I was the store, they had some fairly large ones. You could try whatever onion you have on hand, I would love to try this again when sweet vidalia onions are in season. What ever you use, slice it fairly thin, and you’ll want about 1/2 worth.
I heated about 2 tsp of butter over medium heat in a skillet, added the onion and dropped the heat a bit. I was looking to just get them soft, maybe a little browning. This wasn’t in the original recipe, but I had a bit of red pepper left from some other things I was making, so I diced that up and put that in there as well, about 1/4 cup worth. Once they were softened, I transferred them to a 2 quart sauce pan and put that on the same low heat. I could have done all this in the sauce pan, but I love using my cast iron for sauteing onions, the even heating even over low flame is great. If you do it right in your saucepan, make sure you keep stirring the onions to avoid burning on the hot spots.
Add in 1 clove of sliced garlic, let that cook for about 30 seconds, giving it a couple stirs, then emptied the 28oz can of tomatoes in to the pan. They don’t need a lot of cooking, so just keep stirring a bit over the next few minutes with a wooden spoon, breaking up the whole tomatoes a bit. Once it’s warmed up, stir in about a teaspoon of a basic Italian seasoning mix, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and about a teaspoon of sugar.
If you don’t have Italian seasoning, use some dried oregano, maybe a bit of basil. It won’t take much. The sugar is to help counter the natural acidity of the tomatoes, the pepper flakes to add just a touch of zing.
Stir those in, let it heat another couple minutes, then either use an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a regular blender to puree everything together… and you’re ready to serve.
Once I tried this, I knew I had to do the traditional pairing of a grilled cheese sandwich, so I whipped up a quick half sandwich with some halvarti cheese, a slice of whole grain bread and reheated a piece of bacon I had in the fridge.
This was much better than I would have hoped for, and as odd as it is for me to think this, I may actually enjoy tomato soup on a regular basis now. But what I like about this, is with just some minor changes, it will easily become a basis for some pasta sauce, maybe other soups, even a pizza sauce.
- 1/2 cup shallots thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper chopped
- 1 clove garlic sliced
- 1 can San Marzano/pomodori pelati tomatoes 28 oz
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp sugar
- In a medium sized saucepan, heat a bit of oil or butter over medium heat, add shallot and pepper, cooking until soft - about 5 minutes
- Stir in garlic, cook for about 30 seconds more
- Add can of tomatoes, stirring occassionally and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon while heating
- Stir in seasoning, pepper flakes and sugar
- Carefully transfer to a blender container or use an immersion blender to puree, serve warm