In the Dozier house, tomato soup has always come from the can. My dad used to slurp it down with a side of saltines on a fairly regular basis. Me, I ran far far away from the stuff.
I thought my Campbell's days were over once I fled Alabama; turns out, not even close. Walt lives and breathes for the processed kind, and I'm not going to lie, I dabble in the neon goodness every now-and-then, too.
It was a revelation a few Christmas's ago when I discovered that tomato soup could actually be -- shock, gasp, screech -- homemade. (I've come a long way in the kitchen, can you tell?). The day my sister served that sweet, tangy, tomato-ey pot of goodness should be marked as some sort of culinary milestone in my life. I mean, homemade soup. Who knew.
A few years have passed since that fateful day, and many, many pots of soup have been made in this dixie kitchen. Here, my tomato soup builds on layers of flavors: carrots, onions, and garlic provide the aromatics, tomato paste ups the "tomato" anti, brown sugar mellows the acidity, and a splash of cream gives just the right silky mouth-feel. If you're feeling wild and crazy, a shot of sherry rounds it all out.
Serve this with an ooey-gooey grilled cheese and you've got yourself a night.
CREAMY TOMATO SOUP
Source: Nealey Dozier
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 (28 ounce) cans plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
Crème fraîche, for garnish
Fresh herbs, finely chopped, for garnish
Heat butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and sweat, 5 – 7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds. Add flour and tomato paste and mix until well-incorporated; saute about 1 minute (long enough to cook out the raw flour taste).
Add tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, approximately 30 minutes. Puree soup using an immersion blender and strain through a fine-mesh sieve (skip this step if you like a thicker soup). Return pot to medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and sherry. Season liberally with salt and white pepper.
Serve with a dallop of crème fraîche and freshly chopped herbs.
Kitchen tip: Have you discovered crème fraîche? If not, you should. It's a cultured cream, similar to sour cream but a bit milder. Most importantly, it's delicious. It's becoming more readily available at grocery stores everywhere, but it isn't exactly cheap. The good news -- it is so very easy to make at home! Check out the recipe from my friend Christine over at Literary Appetite.