Sunday, January 31, 2010

tomato soup

As a kid, I was never too fussy about cream of tomato soup. The stuff that came out of a can seemed sweet and I never understood the appeal of it. Now that I'm older, I have an appreciation for homemade tomato soup. Here's a recipe that I made the other day. The original recipe that I got from a website seemed heavy on the milk and light on the tomatoes, so I changed the proportions a bit and added a few extra things, like curry paste, tomato paste and a bouillon cube. The thing I learned is the secret of the baking soda: added to the tomatoes, it keeps the milk from curdling.

cream of tomato soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 chopped onion
2-3 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk (you can do it with less)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (to counter the acidity)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ tsp mild curry paste
1 bouillon cube
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a medium to large pot. Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned. Sprinkle the flour over the butter mixture and continue to stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk and continue to cook and stir until slightly thickened. Stir the baking soda into the tomatoes (it will fizz). Add the tomatoes to the milk (it might froth up a bit) Add bouillon cube, tomato paste, curry paste, sugar and bay leaf and bring just to a simmer. Add extra water if necessary. Remove from the heat and put through a strainer or mix with an immersion hand blender. Taste and correct seasonings with salt and pepper. For the ultimate in comfort, serve with a grilled cheese sandwich. Yum!
Just a quick note about curry paste:  I find it really handy to have around and I add small amounts to pasta sauces and other hearty soups to give them a bit of depth. Just a 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon is usually enough for a big pot of whatever you're cooking.

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