Tomato Basil Soup

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There was a little bistro here in my town – a sandwich, soup, and salad kind of place. It was successful, but the owners eventually retired and moved to Texas to be closer to their extended family.

The one thing I always ordered was their tomato basil soup. It was rich, tomatoey, and perfumed with sweet basil. And I don’t typically order soup at restaurants.


This is my attempt to recreate something hopefully similar, and definitely good, based on the following criteria.

1. I believe in using good quality canned tomatoes. Summer fresh tomatoes are lovely, but can lack in sweetness, or worse yet – can be tart.

2. I’m adding a carrot to provide a sweet boost, something I learned from making an Italian tomato tart.

3. I’m including a few sun-dried tomatoes for sweetness; they also help thicken.

4. Dried basil goes into this soup. I know that it seems unsophisticated, but I feel both fresh and dried herbs have their places in cooking.

Tomato Basil Soup
printable recipe below

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
2 – 28 ounce cans San Marzano whole tomatoes, or other high quality brand
6 sun-dried tomato halves, jarred in oil
1 tablespoon (or more) dried sweet basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces heavy cream

Melt the butter in a large enameled pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for about 5 minutes.


Add the garlic halves and stir for about 30 seconds, then pour in the canned tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.

Simmer the tomato mixture for at least 30 minutes, uncovered. Cook longer if there’s still too much liquid; you’ll be adding cream later.

Stir in the sweet basil and salt, and season to taste.

Let the soup cool. Then pour the soup into a large blender jar, along with the cream.

Return the puréed soup to the pot and heat through before serving.

Even with the cream, the soup remains tomato-red, and definitely rich in flavor.

If more richness and creaminess are desired, you can always add a little sour cream or creme fraiche.

Alternatively, crumble a little goat cheese on top.

This soup is fairly quick and definitely easy. If you don’t have sun-dried tomatoes, just use a good quality tomato paste instead, about 3 tablespoons. I like tubular tomato paste for a small job.

Add more dried basil if the soup isn’t basil-y enough. You should definitely taste the tomato-basil combination!

 

 

Tomato Jam

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This recipe is based on one from the beautiful blog, Fleur de Sel. Before coming across the post for tomato jam, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it before. Where have I been?!!

But it was so intriguing to me, I couldn’t quit thinking about it. What a wonderful addition to a grilled cheese sandwich or served on a cheese platter. Yum.

So, I decided it was time to make my own. I altered Lindsay’s recipe slightly, mostly by omitting the Herbes de Provence. I just wanted to find out what the tomato jam tasted like on its own.

So here’s what I did.

Tomato Jam

3-4 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 green apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 small onion, diced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Sprinkles of cayenne pepper, optional
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon

Place the tomatoes, apple, onion, brown sugar, salt and cayenne in a large enamel pot.
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Cover, and bring everything to a simmer.

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Then cook for about 2 1/2 hours over low heat until most all of the liquid has evaporated. Add the cider vinegar and cook for another minute, then stir in the lemon juice.

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After the jam had cooled, I blended it to smooth things out a bit, but without making a puree. Then I poured the jam into 2 – 12 ounce jars that were sterilized.
jam1

The color of the jam is beautiful and it tasted delightful. Next time I want to add some orange zest.

jam

I proceeded to waterbath the two jars and I’m saving them up for the holidays!

With a little bit of the leftover jam in the blender, I whipped up a little sandwich with the jam and some buffalo mozzarella. It was delicious. I can’t wait to get more creative with it!

jammy

verdict: The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar. I cut the total amount of sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 of a cup. It’s just hard for me psychologically to use a lot of sugar. But perhaps that’s why my jam doesn’t look as “sticky” as it does in Lindsay’s photos. Or, I perhaps didn’t allow for enough evaporation. We’ll see what happens when I go to use it….

Which I did when my kids were in town and I served the tomato jam with a giant chunk of Manchego (featured photo). Sticky or not sticky, it was a fabulous pairing.