When I was younger my mom often made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Like so many warm-blooded Americans, we liked these gooey sammies with a soup for optimum dunking. My sisters and parents were fine with Campbell’s tomato soup, but I, with ever the refined palate, could not stomach the stuff. I always had to have a separate bowl of the gastronomically superior chicken noodle soup; extra sodium, please.
For years I turned my nose up at any kind of tomato soup for fear it would be too reminiscent of the overly tinny soup of my youth. Not until after college did I even contemplate giving the homemade classic another go, and much to my chagrin I found I really loved it. Of course, circling back to that refined palate, it couldn’t just be any recipe. The smell of cold tomato soup or sauce is up at the top of my makes-my-teeth-itch list of discomforts.
I believe, however, that as of yesterday I have found the ultimate tomato soup recipe. We are talking so good it’s worth cooking up a vat of it purely for the purposes of making your neighbors wildly jealous with the intoxicating scent of roasting garlic, further tempting them to come downstairs and finally introduce themselves (I’m too nervous to go knocking on any Swiss doors). So good that I was throwing expletives around in ecstasy. On a Sunday.
When I’m looking for no-fail recipes I so often turn to Smitten Kitchen. Her kitchen dimensions so closely mirror my own that I’ve come to believe if she can accomplish feasts of beauty then so can I. Especially with my new kitchen cart that’s breaking all sorts of culinary boundaries like holding plates and becoming a place for me to set up the coffee maker. Naturally, when wanting to take my immersion blender for a spin (or a thousand), tomato soup sounded like the perfect test drive. What with chilly fall temperatures and kitchen gadgets just waiting to be employed it seemed like the most obvious recipe to revisit. And so, like it so often does, SK came to rescue with a barely tweaked Bon Appetit recipe, and me being me, I just had to go and further tweak it myself. And by tweak I mean refuse to read the directions clearly or fully before gathering ingredients and cooking, thus being a half a pound short on tomatoes and a half a head in surplus of roasted garlic.
To be sure, this recipe is a win on all counts and definitely the best soup I have ever made. I’ve threatened to take baths in all sorts of sauces before but this might be the first soup for which I’d willingly step up to a dunk tank. That is some kind of powerful imagery.
You can find the full recipe here and I strongly encourage you to follow that hyperlink. As alluded I made a few changes to the recipe. Most significantly we did not make a cheddar lid because we don’t have oven-proof bowls and already had big plans to make gouda grilled cheeses. I have no self control when it comes to cheese so I also added goat cheese as a garnish.
In addition I added on secret ingredient that I will gladly share with you because it made our soup monumentally better. The original recipe creates a soup that is a bit on the watery side and I knew we would want something thicker and creamier. Forgoing the half-and-half that was in the fridge (once on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, and so on) I decided instead to toast two slices of bread, roughly break it up into chunks and add it to the soup. After letting it simmer for an extra fifteen minutes I then hit the soup hard with another few blasts of the immersion blender and the results created the perfect silky texture without any diluted flavor. I have to say it quite possibly made the soup. It’s an old Italian trick that I lay no claim to. I’m just here to steal people’s ideas and then pronounce the results the best thing I’ve ever made.
Lastly, I roasted a whole head of garlic instead of four cloves (the more the merrier! unless you’re a vampire…). I used the extra to make a roasted garlic aioli to go with our brussels sprouts. Simply add a clove to mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and a hit of lemon juice, mash it all up with the back of a spoon or fork and serve along side your favorite cruciferous, knubby vegetable.
I’m not sure what it’s like where you live but if you’re anywhere in the northern hemisphere you might be enjoying some crisp temps soon. I fully
force suggest you give this a whirl. Happy cooking!