I am a lazy cook and a picky eater, Rich. When I’m hungry I want to eat NOW and I want what I want. This makes my aversion to processed and pre-packaged foods particularly inconvenient. Most of the time, I don’t like how they taste or how I feel after eating them. It feels like a curse sometimes. On the other hand, God seems to have balanced this out by giving me a desire to grow things in the garden. So, one day, I figured out how to make really easy tomato soup. I’m pretty sure you want to know how I did it.
My basic approach to preserving food is much like my basic approach to buying groceries. Have the simplest forms of the ingredients on hand. This allows for more flexibility in meal preparation. If done correctly, it also let’s me prepare many meals the easiest way possible. With a willingness to experiment some, I have found that food doesn’t have to be as complicated as I was lead to believe by the abundance of labor intensive recipes.
For my home made cream of tomato soup, I recently started with having these ingredients on hand:
- 3 quarts pureed, home canned tomatoes (a mix of Stupice and Heinz tomatoes this time around; see reflections below for substitute store bought tomato sauce)
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons chicken base
- 3 scant Tablespoons dehydrated onion pieces
- 1 Tablespoon freshly dried lemon basil (post coming 9/25/2013), crushed as it is put into the soup
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- granulated sugar, to be added at individual’s discretion
- hot paper lantern pepper, diced, for the husband with the fire brick stomach
In view of my confessions in the first paragraph, it is a little surprising that I took time for the first step. Maybe it’s because I know I don’t have to. Most of the time when I use my tomatoes, I just dump the whole jar in. I don’t think twice about the seeds and skins while eating because I don’t notice them. I’m sure I am getting good vitamins from them, too. However, while I have prepared tomato soup with this principle in the past, I prefer my cream of tomato soup to be fairly smooth. Thus, I often
1) put the pureed tomatoes through a hand crank food mill.
After this was completed (and the remains added to the compost for the chickens), I …
2) added the chicken base, water, dried onion, celery seed, and basil.
I heated it all until it was just simmering bubbles around the edge of the pot. If it gets too hot (i.e. boiling), it curdles the cream when I add it. Please note that my home canned tomatoes already have 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar added to each quart.
Now all that was needed was to put my ration in a large mug. The one I chose held about 2 cups of soup. To this was
3) added ¼ cup cream, and
4) 1.5 teaspoons sugar (at husband’s suggestion)
Husband also put in
5) about a teaspoon of finely chopped hot paper lantern pepper, freshly picked
This is only for the fearless.
Here are some thoughts upon reflection of my cream of tomato soup:
- The soup was fabulous, until I got down to where the onion bits had settled and accidentally took a mouthful. They were not strong (really quite sweet), but I wasn’t expecting them and they were not what I was hoping for in my last bite! In retrospect, I would use a mortar and pestal or possibly the coffee grinder on the dried onion to make onion powder. Husband grinds all manner of things in the coffee grinder, so I would not be committing any heinous crime. I could also saute’ some fresh onions, then put them through the blender with a little of the tomato liquid. I might also just think about putting the dried onion bits in warm water to soak right before I begin milling the tomatoes, then run the softened onions through the blender with some of the water or tomato liquid.
- I was going dig a couple of carrots to put in the soup, but a thunder and hail storm hit right as I was starting, so I skipped it. If I do it next time, I will probably treat them like the fresh onions, in an effort to keep my soup smooth.
- When my mom makes her home made tomato soup, she likes to use Hunt’s tomato sauce. It seems to have less additives than other brands.
- This recipe for completely fresh tomato soup from Former Chef is a good reference.
- I might add a touch of ground black pepper next time.
This particular batch made enough to feed 4 people, with soup being the main part of the meal. There were about 3 smaller servings left over for the next day. Everyone was core heated, even if they didn’t have hot peppers in theirs, so I expect this to be a regular meal until I run out of home canned tomatoes!