I'm 10 years old and sitting for a portrait in Mrs. DeWitt's home, my 5th grade teacher who also happens to paint as a hobby. She lives up the street from us in a brick duplex and asks me if I would mind sitting still for a couple of hours while she paints my portrait - lunch included afterwards and I get to keep the portrait. I agree, figuring I haven't got much to lose.
Except lunch was canned tomato soup. I've never eaten tomato soup before, and it tastes pretty awful. I try my best to swallow more than a spoonful, but it's obvious to Mrs. DeWitt that I'm less than enthralled. It's not that I don't like tomatoes. In my house, we ate plenty of tomatoes - raw in salads, cooked in sauce, but never as a soup by itself. If we had extra tomatoes from our garden (which took up the whole back yard) they were vacuum-sealed in mason jars and used during the winter for everything from stews to gravy - but never tomato soup.
More decades later than I care to admit, I have to say that the tomato soup drought has ended. Although I've got a surfeit of tomatoes in my garden, I don't feel like standing over boiling pots of hot water to preserve jars for wintertime. Instead, I took the plunge last week and made tomato soup for the first time - and you know what? It was nothing like that canned drivel that I remember eating so many years ago as a young girl. Sorry, Mrs. DeWitt, but your painting skills were far superior to your culinary talents. I just wish I knew where that portrait got to.
Homemade Tomato Soup
Printable Recipe Here
about 4 to 5 pounds tomatoes, cut into chunks (no need to take off skins or remove seeds)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 sticks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
one bunch basil (about 40 leaves)
half and half, or heavy cream - to taste (optional)
decoration: yogurt thinned out with milk (optional)
In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in the olive oil until softened. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper and basil. Cook for about 1/2 hour. Puree everything in a blender, then pour back into the pot. Add as much half and half or heavy cream as you like, but leave it out if you're counting calories. Freezes well too, but add the cream just before serving.
Decorate with a bit of plain yogurt thinned out with a little milk until it's the pourable. Make concentric circles with the mixture, then take a toothpick and move it back and forth to create the web design. Sprinkle a little minced basil on top.