Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ridiculously Simple Tomato Soup

Photo by Keenan Stansbury-Farrell
After a billion or so inches of snow, I'm craving some comfort food.  On the other hand, my waistline probably wouldn't benefit from a big dish of mac & cheese or plate of enchiladas - two of my favorites.  Enter go-to food number three: tomato soup.

I grew up with Campbell's condensed tomato soup, usually served with a grilled cheese sandwich made with regular sandwich bread and yellow American cheese... the processed, individually wrapped kind.  I have to admit that in the depths of winter, this is the food I crave.  My goal was to satisfy my memory of those foods while making something fresher and a little more "grown up."

I'm not big on thick, bisque-style tomato soups.  Particularly in the depth of winter, I love making light, brightly flavored soups heavy on the stock.  This recipe calls for only 7 ingredients, not counting salt and pepper - flecked with herbs with a hint of garlic, you'll wonder why you even keep the canned stuff around.  Speaking of cans, I really recommend using aseptically-packed tomatoes if you can find them.  They come in a paperboard box (like a lot of stocks nowadays), and tend to have a less tinny flavor.  But if you can only find canned tomatoes, look at the ingredients and pick one with as few ingredients as possible.  The tomatoes I buy have the following list.  Ingredients: Tomatoes.  That's it.  With so few ingredients, quality counts.

One last note:  You'll notice an odd ingredient in my tomato soup, tamari.  Tamari is a high-quality soy sauce, and while it's absolutely not traditional to a tomato soup, it adds a savory note that rounds out the soup nicely.

I served my soup with a small toasted ham and swiss sub - the perfect accompaniment for a chilly winter day.

Ridiculously Simple Tomato Soup
Serves 4-6

1 t. olive oil
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1 750g (about 26 oz.) box strained tomatoes
32 oz low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1 T. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. finely ground pepper
1 t. tamari (optional, but highly recommended)

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in large saucepan.  When hot, add garlic and let cook until softened, 1-2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and stock, and stir well to combine.  Add basil, oregano, pepper, and tamari, and bring to a simmer.  Let simmer for 10-15 minutes until heated through, and add a small pinch of salt.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

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