With end of season Roma tomatoes patiently sitting on our counter, I knew I could only make one thing with the bushel’s hefty contents: simple tomato soup. This time around, my approach was unusually particular. Usually I freestyle a bit more — leave it chunky, add curry powder, stir in spinach at the end. But this was all about playing around with the smoothness of textures and the purity of the classic tomato soup flavor.
Even though I had nearly 100 tomatoes to work through, the process was relaxing and simple. Each tomato bottom was scored with an X and gently lowered into a pot of salted, boiling water. Groups of 12 tomatoes blanched for about 45 seconds, and then fished out to cool. Once they were ready to handle, I gently tugged the skins off the tomatoes, pulling outwards from the X. The tomatoes were cut into quarters, using my thumbs to scoop out the seeds, which went into a big bowl (along with the skins). It was messy but deeply satisfying work.
Once all tomatoes were blanched, peeled, seeded, and diced, I began to build the soup. I sauteed a classic mirepoix — a finely diced mix of onion, carrot, and celery — in a golden puddle of olive oil. Chopped garlic, red chili flakes, bay leaves, butter, and plenty of kosher salt were all added. Then went in the tomatoes, and stirred to combine. The leftover seeds, guts, and juices went through a colander directly over the pot, catching all of the delicious tomato juice as it strained through the solids. These tomatoes happened to be so juicy, that I barely added any stock or water to the pot — only about a few tablespoons of chicken broth! It was remarkable.
The entire mess stewed away for a few hours, and then I turned the heat off, removed the bay, and ran the soup in batches through my food processor. Although part of me loves the rustic presentation of a chunkier soup, I was glad I ran it through the blender. The soup had a creamy, velvety texture and tasted unabashedly, deeply of tomatoes. We had a few bowls for dinner, and I froze the rest. I’ve since used the tomato soup for baked onions, reduced into a simple pasta sauce, and combined with carrots to make another soup.