Tomato Soup

We ate the soup with grilled cheese and some homemade dill pickles (the cucumbers also came from aCSA box).

This summer I signed up for a CSA delivery from a local farm called Rice Family Harvest. Every week I get a box of goodies, and every week it’s a surprise. (It doesn’t have to be a complete mystery, though–you can request specific items and purchase additional things to add to your box. I just happen to like the suspense!)

Here's a sampling of what might come in the CSA box. Not pictured: onion, blueberries and spinach.
Here’s a sampling of what might come in the CSA box. Not pictured: onion, blueberries and spinach.

Nearly every box I’ve received this summer has had tomatoes in some form or another–cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, Early Girls, etc. For me, this is great. I love fresh tomatoes and have been known to eat a whole one sliced up with little more than a sprinkle of salt on top as a snack. Good, fresh tomatoes are what summer should taste like!

Paul, however, is not a big fan of raw tomatoes, and one girl can only eat so many. So when this week’s box showed up carrying four big ones, I decided that some of them would need to be cooked. I cut up one for a salad, and used the rest to make this soup.

The tomato and onion for this recipe came from the CSA box, and the basil and oregano came from our patio garden. I cheated and used baby carrot from Kroger.
The tomato and onion for this recipe came from the CSA box, and the basil and oregano came from our patio garden. I cheated and used baby carrots from Kroger!

This tomato soup recipe is loosely based on Mark Bittman’s from the How to Cook Everything app. I often make it with canned tomatoes (I use two 15-oz cans or one 28-oz can of diced tomatoes, depending on what I have) but it’s even better with fresh! You can puree the soup at the end, but you don’t have to.

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Tomato Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • about 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced, or 28-30 oz of canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, optional, plus more to finish the soup
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, optional
  • 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (use more for a thinner soup), preferably homemade
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of sugar, optional

Steps

  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until hot. (If you plan to use an immersion blender later, make sure it’s NOT a nonstick pot!) Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Add the tomato paste and stir well.
    Cook the onion and carrot until they are nice and soft. You definitely don't want crunchy bits in your soup.
    Cook the onion and carrot until they are nice and soft. You don’t want crunchy bits in your soup.

    Stir in the tomato paste. I like to buy the tube of tomato paste so I can squeeze out exactly how much I need.
    Stir in the tomato paste. I like to buy the tube of tomato paste so I can squeeze out exactly how much I need.
  2. Cook the mixture until the onion and carrot are very tender, 10-15 minutes. You want them to get pretty soft at this stage and develop some color. Stir frequently and adjust the heat if necessary to prevent burning, but don’t worry about bits of tomato paste that caramelize and stick the pan–they help create a nice rich tomato taste in the finished soup.

    Stir often, but don't worry about tomato paste that sticks to the pan. It helps build the flavor of the soup!
    Stir often, but don’t worry about tomato paste that sticks to the pan. It helps build the flavor of the soup!
  3. Deglaze the pan by splashing in about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Stir well and scrape up the caramelized bits. Cook for a minute or two until the liquid has reduced.

    Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and scrap up the browned bits.
    Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and scrape up the browned bits.
  4. Add the tomatoes, basil and oregano and stir to combine. Simmer over medium at least 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down some and the mixture begins to thicken and is almost a pasta sauce consistency. You can help the tomatoes along by mashing them against the side of the pan with the spoon.
    You can also use dried herbs in place of fresh. Start with two teaspoons or so and taste to see what you like.
    You can also use dried herbs in place of fresh. Start with two teaspoons or so and taste to see what you like.
    Mark Bittman recommends peeling and de-seeding the tomatoes first, which I didn't do. The skins seem to break down enough, plus they get pureed later. I might remove the seeds next time, though.
    Mark Bittman recommends peeling and de-seeding the tomatoes first, which I didn’t do. The skins seem to break down enough, plus they get pureed later. I might remove the seeds next time, though.

    Cook until the mixture is nice and thick.
    Cook until the mixture is nice and thick.
  5. Add the stock and stir to combine. Simmer the soup for another 5 minutes or so to let the flavors blend. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Add the pinch of sugar if it seems too acidic.

    Add the stock, heat it to a simmer and cook everything together for a few minutes. This was a quick step for me since my stock was already warm from being reheated.
    Add the stock, heat it to a simmer and cook everything together for a few minutes.
  6. If you want a chunky tomato soup, you’re done! If you’d like a smoother soup, you have two options:
    • Carefully ladle about half of the soup into a blender. Remove the center guard in the lid and hold a clean kitchen towel over the hole. Pulse the blender until smooth. Repeat with the rest of the soup and return it to the pot to reheat.
    • Grab your handy immersion blender and blend it up right in the pot. Make sure to tilt the pot away from you when you do this!
      I love my immersion blender because it's so perfect for jobs like this.
      I love my immersion blender because it’s so perfect for jobs like this. Thanks for the gift, Aunt Cindy!

      Carefully blend until you get a consistency you like. (For everyone's safety, the blender is NOT running in this picture!)
      Carefully blend until you get a consistency you like. (For everyone’s safety, the blender is NOT running in this picture!)
  7. Stir in the extra basil if you want or use it as a garnish, and enjoy the delicious soup you made from scratch.

    Add another tablespoon or so of chopped fresh basil at the end, if desired.
    Add another tablespoon or so of chopped fresh basil at the end, if desired.

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