Creamy tomato soup warms my belly on many winter days, whether it’s 60 degrees and raining or 30 degrees and snowing. This version is built on ratios, with a base, thickener, liquid and main ingredient. You can make it from scratch in just 30 minutes with what’s at hand and have it turn out tasty every time.
I grow tomatoes every summer and know I’ll devour this soup all winter, so I plan ahead and freeze them. Cherry tomatoes are my favorite here: harvest them, give them a rinse and pop them in a freezer-safe bag. On soup day, dump the frozen sun-kissed orbs right into the pot. You can freeze other small tomatoes whole in the same way. Large ones are more manageable when cored, chopped and briefly frozen on a tray before bagging. Blanch and peel them before freezing if you dislike the skins; they break down and blend in so smoothly that I don’t bother.
I freeze onions too, grilling racks of them first for bonus flavor. Grilling onions is easy: peel, cut in half crosswise and place cut side down on a medium-hot grill for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. When cooled, chop, freeze on a tray and then bag. For this soup, pour the frozen onions straight into the pot.
Have I enticed you to save for this soup next growing season? You can still make it now. My batch last week used fresh homegrown tomatoes, harvested green just before frost hit and ripened in a box. Home-canned jars or store-bought cans of tomatoes work too. Any color of fresh onion can be chopped when the soup urge hits you.
30-Minute Tomato Soup
24 ounces fresh, frozen or canned tomatoes (about 3 cups chopped)
1 small fresh or frozen onion (about 1/2 cup chopped)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 cups whole or 2% milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
If using fresh vegetables, peel the onion and chop it and the tomatoes; set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, prepare a roux: Melt the butter, let it bubble for about 30 seconds and then add the flour. Cook, stirring thoroughly with a heatproof spatula or spoon, for about 2 minutes, until the flour darkens slightly. Stir in the onions and cook for 3–5 minutes, until they start to soften. Peel and smash the garlic; add it and the basil to the pot and cook for another 30 seconds.
Slowly pour in the milk, stirring with a heatproof whisk or spatula to blend in the roux. Bring to a low simmer, stirring often to thicken the soup. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper; cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes release their liquid into the soup. Using an immersion or upright blender, puree to your desired thickness. Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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