Coop’s Soup: Thrive on Tomato

Cooper Nelson, Staff Writer 

illustration by Mary Cheung
illustration by Mary Cheung

   Why not just make the canned soup? Because I want a meal, not thickened tomato juice. Because I want something I can enjoy without adding an entire sleeve of saltine crackers. And because life isn’t about making the easiest choices.

   There’s an extra step in making tomato soup. In order to get the creamiest product, the skins and seeds must first be removed from the tomatos. We do this through blanching.

   To blanch, get a pot of water boiling. Cut an X at the bottom and top of your tomatoes. Don’t worry about making your X too big, worry about making it too small. Throw (not literally) your tomatoes into the boiling water for a minute if ripe, longer if not ripe. Of course, if your tomatoes aren’t ripe, you should consider waiting a few more days until making this dish. After the boil, toss (again figurative) the tomatoes into very cold water. The skins should slide right off. Cut your tomatoes in half, remove the seeds with your fingers or a spoon, chop and set aside.

Ingredients (serves 2)
-1 lb of tomatoes
-1 onion (or leek for a really cool flavor)
-2 cloves of garlic
-A bay leaf
-Basil (fresh is better, dry is fine)
-Salt and pepper
-1 to 2 cups water
-½ cup half & half
-Flour optional

   Sweat the onions and garlic in the butter with some salt. When they become soft, add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, basil and pepper. Let them sweat for five more minutes. Add the water. Try not to add broth. This fight belongs to the tomatoes and the tomatoes alone. They don’t want no help from no broth. I find that measuring is futile. I wrote one to two cups in the above ingredients because that’s somewhere about the amount we’ll be using. You want to use enough to barely cover the tomatoes. Simmer that for 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and blend. Now add the half & half. You want to use about a quarter the amount of half & half as you did water. Add salt and serve.

   If you want to thicken this more, you can add one or two tbsp of flour to the half & half before you add it. Just don’t add raw flour to a hot soup, or the flour will congeal into little powder dumplings. If you decide to add flour, let it simmer in the soup for give minutes.

   This soup can be improved in so many ways. Try adding a little wine or curry powder, play with the ratio of water to half & half, or set chunks of tomato aside to add to the puree afterwards. The effort is worth it.

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