Elizabeth, this recipe is for you. Not because cans of Campbell’s tomato soup aren’t delicious. To say that their smooth, salty simplicity isn’t its own kind of wonderful would undermine my credibility. It would be like saying that chewy-crisp thick-cut bacon doesn’t hit every biological pleasure center. It would be like denying that milk chocolate melts in your mouth. It would be wrong.
And I don’t proffer this recipe because I think canned soup will gather somewhere, like storm clouds on the horizon of your children’s cells, threatening to erupt into a colossal storm in the not-so-distant future. We’ve all eaten our fair share of Campbell’s tomato soup, diluted with water and/or milk, which our moms measured out inside the cans themselves, to whish away all the little globs of tomato concentrate from the rippled insides. And even with canned soup residue coursing through us, we seem to be doing just fine. We’ve even managed to be fruitful and multiply ourselves. So, as far as I can tell, regular doses of canned soup didn’t give us anything except some inexpensive happiness on snowy days.
In spite of its undeniable yumminess and its happy spot in our childhood memories, I’ve given up the Campbell’s version…And I’ve given it up for this soup. This soup, my friend, is its own thing. It’s not silky smooth, and I don’t want it to be, although you can control the degree of smooth by just controlling your immersion blender. (You did go buy an immersion blender, right?) It’s a salty sweet blend of wholesomeness (a little like Campbell’s) but with considerably more complexity: a dash of smokiness, and a pinch of something sharp and warming, a secret ingredient. I’ll give you a hint:
Still don’t know? Well, I guess you’ll just have to keep reading.
I didn’t invent this recipe whole cloth, so I’ll refer you to the original: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/tomato-bisque-iii/. Of course, as its author wrote in its intro, even it isn’t an original, having been adapted from a recipe in Food and Wine. Such is the plight of all recipes in our postmodern, Pinterest-y world. My version, below, is a little less sweet and a little less buttery but a little creamier. Sugar, butter, and cream? Yes, gosh, yes! Isn’t that Campbell’s can sounding a little less enticing already?
In preparation for snowy days and dark evenings, Elizabeth, here’s my tomato soup recipe. Give it the kiddo-test and let me know how it goes!
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes, with juices
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or nutmeg from a tin, if that’s what you’ve got (That picture above: it’s half a nutmeg.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a big soup pot, melt your butter and saute your chopped veggies until they get soft.
2. Stir in your tomato paste, sugar, and flour, and cook for a few minutes until the mixture begins to bubble/sizzle a little in the bottom of the pot.
3. Add your broth, tomatoes, and nutmeg and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Then use your immersion blender to blend it all up, as smooth as you like.
4. Stir in your heavy cream or half-and-half and then adjust for seasoning.
5. Serve with a nice loaf of bread that can stand up to dipping. Maybe some no-knead sourdough? Oh, and I almost forgot, I often add some cooked ravioletti (your favorite and mine, Elizabeth!) to the kids’ bowls so that this soup inches ever so slightly in the direction of Spaghettios or some other Chef Boyardee creation. But the adults in my house love ours straight up.
When it’s homemade like this, soup really is
good better food.