Oh the joy of discovering excellent recipes! My heart is full with happiness and my stomach cannot wait to taste this nurturing soup again. I wish I could claim full credit, but I cannot. This is the fine work of Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. The original recipe is called Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup.
It serves 8, easy. I enjoyed it twice in one day, it's so smooth and satisfying. It's called creamless AND creamy because the recipe does not call for heavy cream. The creamy texture comes from using 3 slices of sandwich bread. I kid you not, it's the secret ingredient to its success. My family didn't have a clue; they didn't even ask. They just slurped it down as they groaned over their bowls.
HERE'S ALL IT TAKES
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 medium onion , chopped medium (about 1 cup)
- 3 medium garlic cloves
- Pinch hot red pepper flakes or 1/4 teaspoon hot Paprika (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 (1-pound) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 slices good-quality sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon good extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain. Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.
Transfer half of soup to blender. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil. Rinse out Dutch oven and return soup to pot. Stir in chicken broth. Return soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls.
If half of the soup fills your blender by more than two-thirds, process the soup in three batches. You can also use an immersion blender to process the soup directly in the pot. For an even smoother soup, pass the pureed mixture through a fine-mesh strainer before stirring in the chicken broth in step.
The original recipe is called Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup, published September 1, 2008, from Cook's Illustrated.com.
MY COOKING NOTES:
- I wanted to use my very favorite canned tomatoes, San Marzano whole plum tomatoes. They're sweet with the right level of acidity for soups and sauces. They cost more than the average can of whole tomatoes, but they're worth it when I need a tomato sauce to stand alone.
- I saved the pinch of red pepper flakes as the last seasoning before serving the grown ups. I was afraid the heat would be noticeable to the kiddos. I wanted them to love this soup and didn't need reasons for them not to like it.
- I used my immersion blender to puree the tomato-bread mixture. Then I passed it through a mesh strainer before adding the broth. This removed the seeds and stray bits of tomato skins, along with taking the soup to the next smoothest texture. It makes all the big difference in making the soup feel creamy in the mouth. It's worth it when I take the extra 3 minutes to strain the soup.
- Next time, I'm doubling the recipe so I can freeze servings for make-ahead-lunches. Since there's no dairy involved, this recipe is sure to hold up for future meals.