Fresh tomato soup is a rare treat! Quick, make a batch right now before those juicy garden-ripe tomatoes are gone for good. This soup is easy to make and best of all, a bowl is the most soothing and comforting food you can taste.
Did you grow up with tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches? I think everybody must have, and believe me, a bowl of this will send you right back to that lunch that mom made. (But, true confession, my mom was a great cook, but we only got soup from a can. Soup was not her forte. Oh well, I can still dream about comforting bowls of soup.)
Yet, what really makes this soup so rare and precious is the time of year. For only a few fleeting weeks each year, juicy ripe tomatoes cling to the vine right before the weather grows chilly. My farmers’ market had baskets and baskets of tomatoes last week. The price was right and suddenly I knew I had to snatch up enough tomatoes to make this soup. And sure enough, the next day, it turned cool and rainy and reminded us that fall was coming. A hot bowl of soup was just perfect.
Roxanne mentioned in the last blog that we were just about to finish a new cookbook. We are in crunch time! It is great fun and is sweet to think about, but right now, time is precious. The slow cooker comes to the rescue. You know the drill—put it in, forget it for a while and enjoy a great meal. It is the kind of meal I need when my mind is filled with deadlines and work. (Want some other great slow cooker meals? A couple of my favorites are Bourbon Barbecued Beef and Beef Short Rib Ragu.)
Oh I was glad I made that soup. We had great soup that night, and then I had a cup for lunch. (Since there are only two of us here, there was enough soup for several lunches.)
I loved every drop and every bite was just the comforting treat I needed during a busy week. Do you have a busy week ahead? Grab those end-of-summer tomatoes and enjoy a tasty, comforting bowl.
Fresh Tomato Soup with Parmesan Herb Croutons
2½ to 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, about 6 to 7 medium to large tomatoes
1 small sweet onion, cut into wedges about ½-inch thick
5 cloves garlic, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
12 to 14 fresh basil leaves
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes with the liquid
½ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
Parmesan Herb Croutons:
3 to 4 thick slices crusty bread, about ¾ -inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as Italian parsley, basil or oregano
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cut the fresh tomatoes into wedges about 1-inch thick. Remove most of the larger seeds. (A few remaining seeds won’t hurt.) Place the tomatoes in a 4 to 5-quart slow cooker. Add the onion wedges, garlic, olive oil, dried basil, crushed pepper, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Cover and cook on High 2½ to 3½ hours or until the tomatoes and onions are very tender.
Turn the slow cooker off and allow to cool slightly.
Add the fresh basil leaves and the canned tomatoes. Using an immersion blender, blend the tomato mixture until the mixture is smooth. (Alternately, carefully ladle some of the tomato mixture into a blender; vent the cover to allow steam to escape and process the tomatoes until smooth. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes, blending until smooth. Return the tomato puree to the slow cooker.)
Stir in the broth. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes (or on Low for 1 to 2 hours.)
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425⁰F. To make clean up easy, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the bread slices into cubes about ¾-inch square. Place the cubes in a zip-top bag. Drizzle the bread cubes with oil, minced herbs of your choice (or a combination of herbs) and salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the bread cubes on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden and toasted. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 1 minute.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each serving with croutons.
Makes 6 servings
Do you enjoy a slightly thicker or thinner soup? Adjust the amount of broth slightly up or down to achieve the desired consistency.
Cream of tomato soup: If desired, omit the broth and blend in ½ to 1 cup half and half during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking.