I have a love-not-love relationship with soup. Sometimes I would be happy to eat it for days in a row, and sometimes I have no patience for it. Soup, after all, can’t really be eaten quickly. The spoon is a finite vessel: It holds what it holds, and forces the eater to go bite by bite, thoughtfully. Eat too fast, and you’re guaranteed to either splash the soup everywhere or burn your mouth, or both.
I’ll admit that I’ve gotten close to the bottom of many a bowl of soup, have looked around to make sure no one was watching me, then picked it up and slammed it back as if it were a cafe au lait. This is not how I would recommend eating soup, unless, of course, you’re comfortable with the recrimination of your Internal Etiquette Monitor. Ladies don’t drink their soup straight from the bowl.
But when I can muster the patience, and can find within myself the discipline to eat at a more graceful speed than usual, I love soup. Whether it’s turkey soup inspired by my Dad’s recipe, or an easy lentil number, or homemade caldo verde, it’s comforting, and a canvas for so many combinations of delicious and interesting ingredients.
As you probably know from reading this blog, I have a great aversion to out-of-season tomatoes. And though, every year, I get the idea that I’m going to want to can tomatoes, I never get around to it when they’re in season. This year, in particular, that was a hopeless cause—I was so busy I barely even got to the farmer’s market during tomato season. So a few weeks ago, I indulged in a shipment from Happy Girl Kitchen out here in California—several jars of canned heirloom tomatoes and dry-farmed tomatoes that I planned to use for something amazing in the tomato off-season.
I decided, in the midst of a stressful pre-holiday week, that some of those tomatoes were destined for homemade tomato soup. Comforting, bright, and, in my case, a little bit creamy, they would be the perfect burst of Vitamin C and A, served up in a warm and soothing package. Plus, it was a stretch in which I desperately needed to slow down and eat something at the pace it required—see all the above about eating too fast And no patience for soup… Would this option serve as aspoonful of medicine? Yes, but not the kind that requires sugar to go down.
I had some leftover half-and-half on hand from another cooking project, so I stirred some into the soup at serving time, but I know we’re reaching the end of The Season of Excess, and you may be looking for something more ascetic to add to your diet. If so, let me assure you that this would be just fine without any dairy. If you’re in need of a little winter solace, pair it with a grilled cheese, but it’s just as lovely paired with a thick slice of whole grain bread from your local bakery and a salad on the side.
Wintertime Homemade Tomato Soup
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
48 oz. canned crushed or diced tomatoes (if you can get local ones, do it. Otherwise, I swear by Muir Glen’s products)
32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
(Optional) Half-and-half or heavy cream
- Heat a cast-iron dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the pan’s hot, add the butter and olive oil and let sizzle until the butter has melted.
- Add the onion and carrot and saute for about five minutes, until the onion is very soft.
- Add a hefty pinch of salt to the onion-carrot mix, then the thyme, and stir to combine.
- Add the tomatoes (including their juice) and the stock, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a strong simmer, and keep it there for about 20 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Puree with an immersion blender. You can also puree it in a regular blender, but you’ll need to do it in parts, and be very careful not to burn yourself with hot soup!
- Serve immediately. If you want to add half-and-half or heavy cream, you can do so directly to each serving.
Here are some additional tomato soup recipes worth checking out: