Experiment: Tomato Soup

Tis the season of fresh homegrown tomatoes!

Two weekends ago, after a very enjoyable albeit hot and dry camping trip with some friends at Pinnacles national park, we stopped by my parents’ house and were gifted a large bag of fresh tomatoes to bring back to Oakland. Yesterday, another bag of juicy tomatoes was obtained from a friend at work as well.

A quintessential garden fruit that is high in the nutrient lycopene, tomatoes of all varieties are relatively easy to grow and usually produce a considerably large harvest in the summer. After enjoying a few with salads and poppyseed dressing, we decided to experiment with some fresh tomato soup!

Doing some research while Jonny drove us to the grocery store after work to pick up any missing ingredients, I learned that most “classic” tomato soups are made with canned rather than fresh tomatoes and often call for up to a cup of heavy cream! The few fresh tomato soup recipes I did find had been ravaged by reader reviews with suggestions for improvement (this is the perfect circumstance for experimentation). I ended up deciding to roughly follow the dependable allrecipes.com version of Garden Fresh Tomato Soup.

A fairly simple and quick recipe, I sauteed minced garlic and diced onion for a few minutes before adding my fresh chopped tomatoes (skins and all) and chicken stock. I tossed in 2 fresh bay leaves and 2 springs fresh thyme from Jonny’s roommates supply and boiled the mixture for about 20 minutes.

As I do not yet have an immersion blender (it’s on my list…), I let the soup cool for a few minutes and then proceeded to carefully purée the soup small batches in my traditional blender. I removed the plastic center of the cap and covered the opening with a paper towel to let steam escape and prevent a potentially disastrous explosion of tomato bits.

In the now empty pot, I combined the 2 tablespoons of butter and flour to make a roux. It took about 5 minutes if continuous stirring before the roux was dark brown and aromatic. The tomato purée was added back into the pot of roux and generously seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Since we wanted a creamier consistency for the soup, I also stirred in two big spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt.

Although not quite the same as the creamy canned version or the Sweet Tomatoes version of tomatoe soup, our tomato soup had a pleasant chunky texture and fresh taste. Depending on your preferences, the tomatoes can be completely peeled before simmering and that would definitely change the texture. In my case, I was too lazy for that extra step and instead plucked out the larger tomato skin pieces as I stirred.

Tomato Soup with a dollop of plain greek yogurt

Courtesy of a pharmaceutical rep that visited the dermatology office Jonny and I work for, we had a few slices of multigrain bread from Boudin and some deli meat. We quickly assembled two grilled cheese sandwiches* with pepper jack cheese to complement our soup for a delicious meal!

*The secret to the browned and crispy bread is spreading some fat (butter or mayonnaise) on the outsides of the sandwich bread before grilling. Make sure to check for doneness often so the bread does not burn!


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