I love a good tomato soup; however, I like it to be made with something other than a can of tomato soup.
This soup is homemade, and even if you use fresh tomatoes, you can have it on the table in 30 minutes. The two twists in the recipe are the use of buttermilk (which is not all that unusual), and some baking soda. But I’ll talk more about that in the recipe.
The addition of the cayenne pepper adds a bit of a kick. I find myself adding more when the weather is cold, and less as the weather warms up.
So, you ready for some soup… Let’s get into the kitchen.
In a dutch oven, or cast iron pot (I love cast iron), heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
Add diced onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 8 minutes.
Chef’s Note: I don’t think I need to tell you this, but don’t let the garlic, or the onion burn… If you do, you’ll be starting over. Keep an eye on that pot, and keep stirring until the onions begin to slightly brown.
Add the peeled tomatoes (along with any juices), plus the chicken stock, baking soda and sugar.
Chef’s Tip: What’s with the baking soda. Tomatoes are acidic, and baking soda lowers acidic levels… by adding a bit of it to the soup, it smoothes out the flavors, and creates a more mellow flavor.
When I’m making tomato dishes, I will taste the tomatoes before adding them to the dish, and if they taste more acid, I will add a bit more baking soda, but the amount in this recipe is a good place to start.
Chef’s Note: I am well aware that not all seasons are favorable to garden fresh tomatoes. If canned is the way you need to go, then let me recommend my absolute favorite canned tomatoes for this recipe: Cento: San Marzano Certified Peeled Tomatoes. They are not the cheapest canned tomatoes on the market, but when it comes to this soup, I can’t tell the difference between fresh and these. Oh, 3.5 pounds of fresh tomatoes would translate to two 28 ounce cans of tomatoes.
Bring to a slow simmer, and allow the tomato base to cook, uncovered for about 10 minutes.
Chef’s Note: As the soup is simmering, use a wooden spoon to break apart the tomatoes, into the sauce.
Remove the tomato base to a blender, or a food processor fitted with an S-blade.
Add the half & half, buttermilk, basil, and oregano to the mix and blend until smooth.
Chef's Tip: What's a chiffonade? To chiffonade the basil, you would stack the basil leaves and roll them into a tube, and then carefully cut across the ends of the tube with your knife to produce fine strips.
Stop and taste… then season with salt and pepper.
Blend, season, and taste… Blend, season, and taste, until you like what you taste.
Chef’s Note: All good chefs taste as they are cooking. Oh and no double dipping please. If you use a spoon to taste with (unless it’s a tasting spoon), always use a new spoon or wash the one you used. Chefs may be good cooks, but they still have germs.
Return the blended soup to the pot, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Serving Tip: I do believe it’s a law that you can’t serve tomato soup without a grilled cheese on the side.
With that said, I usually put the soup in a nice clear or white bowl, add some homemade basil/tomato croutons, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Enjoy.