After more than 10 years in Northern California, I no longer handle the cold very well. While I understand a Bay Area winter is nothing compared to the noreasters I endured as a kid, it still gets plenty cold. Cold enough for me to spend most days in my home office bundled up in a fleece and a hat, dreaming of tomato soup. I don’t know what it is about the cold that makes me crave tomato soup, but it just does. Most likely I just want to experience the summeriness of tomatoes but understand that it has to be packaged in a medium appropriate for winter, hence the soup.
I have spent many winters eating and making tomato soups. Some have tasted a bit bland, flat; others were too acidic. Each time I made a little tweak and believe that I’ve finally arrived at the perfect tomato soup recipe. My secret ingredients are sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, and a dash of cinnamon. The sun-dried tomatoes add a rich depth and pop of flavor. The tomato paste caramelizes the onions creating a lovely sweetness. Together with the cinnamon they both help to neutralize any acidity the tomatoes may have. When blended together, these flavors all soften into each other and create a perfectly balanced tomato soup.
I also like knowing that if any huge natural disaster were to come upon us (like a norwester?) and I couldn’t get to a store for days, I could still whip up this soup with just a few pantry essentials. Plus, you can easily repurpose it as a sauce. It’s a delicious medium for vegetables, covers pasta nicely, and makes ordinary proteins, like a baked chicken breast, feel extra special. And when you dip a grilled cheese sandwich into it, there isn’t a more comforting winter meal.
- Olive oil – 1 tbs.
- Garlic, minced – 2 cloves (P)
- Onion, chopped – 1 (P)
- Tomato paste (buy it in a tube, it’ll last longer) – 1 tbs.
- Diced tomatoes, drained – 1 28 oz. can
- Sun-dried tomatoes – 6
- Chicken stock or vegetable broth – 1.5 to 2 cups
- Cinnamon – ¼ tsp.
- Cream (optional) – 4 tbs.
- Basil, chopped (optional) – A few leaves
- Heat a >3.5 quart Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add olive oil and then minced garlic to heated oil. Once you can smell the garlic, add the onions with a pinch of salt and the tomato paste. Saute for 3 minutes. The sugars from the tomato paste helps to caramelize the onions, creating extra sweetness
- Add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tsp. salt, and enough stock to cover all ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 10 minutes (P)
- Let the soup cool and then puree with an immersion blender. Stir in cinnamon, season to taste with salt and pepper, and top with cream and chopped basil if using
- I also love repurposing this soup as a sauce. It is a delicious medium for vegetables, covers pasta nicely, and makes ordinary proteins, like a baked chicken breast, feel extra special