Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quick Tomato Bisque recipe

I've been on a quest for the perfect tomato soup for some time now. I've been pursuing my goal in a haphazard and lazy way, admittedly, but it still counts as a quest. What I want is a soup that pairs well with a grilled cheese sandwich or saltine crackers, has the flavor of a good bistro tomato bisque, but the easy prep of a can of Campbell's.  I made fresh soups, and tried a canning recipe. They were delicious, but not quite what I wanted (particularly from the 'quick prep' angle). They weren't as smooth as I wanted, the flavors not quite as rich as I was hoping for.  In the end, the answer was far simpler than I'd imagined.  Well, sort of. Let me explain....

It started when I spied the box of paste tomatoes for canning at the farmer's market. I had gotten a food mill for Christmas, and this is what I had been waiting all year to use it for. I made some tomato sauce, canned it up, and had a little left over in the pan. So I made a sort of soup-- just threw in a little garlic powder, pepper, dried basil, and cream.  And it was goooood.  So the next week, I got me another box of paste tomatoes, and made sauce again, this time added a little garlic powder and dried basil to each jar. Voila! Perfect canned tomato soup! Just add cream upon opening.  I'm a bit embarrassed that the perfect soup turned out to be so simple. But perhaps I should have expected that.

So you can do this a couple of different ways. 1) can your own tomato soup concentrate from fresh tomatoes, like I did; 2) Make a fresh puree of tomatoes and use that to make the soup (I did this, too, and 2 lbs of tomatoes got me about 2 1/4 c. puree, which reduced to about 1 1/2 cups of soup); 3) buy a can of tomato sauce and add the spices and cream when you're ready to eat you some soup.  If you do that, just make sure it's the best quality sodium-free sauce you can find, as I suspect the success of the whole thing depends on the quality of the tomato sauce.  I also am able use my homegrown and dried basil, and home dried garlic (I love my dehydrator!), and I'm sure that helps as well. I know that's not an option for most, but just use the freshest dried ingredients you can.

Making the sauce

If you want to make the puree yourself, quarter your tomatoes and heat them in a pan. As I mentioned, 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes got me about a cup and a half of finished soup. Crush them up a bit as they come up to heat. Soon they'll get all juicy and begin to break down. Simmer them for about 10 minutes until they're all nice and soft. Then put them through a food mill or force them through a sieve. Discard the seeds and peels, and return the resulting puree to a saucepan. Simmer it for a while to thicken-- let it go until it's a little thicker than you want the resulting soup to be.  There you go. Now you have puree. On to the soup...

Quick Tomato Bisque

2c. of tomato puree (homemade or canned)
1 tsp dried powdered garlic
1 tsp crumbled dried basil
black pepper to taste

Heat the puree in a pan and stir in the spices. Bring to a simmer, and stir in cream to taste. Enjoy!

Mae, looking like a little tomato vampire.

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