Creamy Tomato Soup

Yesterday was the official start of summer and while you may not be thinking of having soup this time of year, I am thinking ahead to a couple of months from now, when I’ll be canning more tomatoes and thought it would be great to use what I have stored before then. Plus, I’m kind of a soup freak and love to make and eat soup any time of year. If you don’t have your own canned tomatoes, just use store-bought cans of tomatoes.

Tip: Even if you don’t have enough tomatoes to can in your own garden, inquire at your local farm store if they have “seconds.” These are tomatoes or other produce that is slightly distressed and sold at a deep discount. In the case of tomatoes, this can mean some bruised skin. Since you remove the skins before canning, you can use the perfectly good tomatoes on the cheap. At my local place, I can get a 25 pound box of tomatoes for about $12.00.

Canning

One of the greatest things I ever learned how to do in the kitchen was canning. I don’t can very much yet - but what I do in abundance each year is can tomatoes. Canning is a method of food preservation that involves putting food in jars and processing either at a very high heat or high pressure. This process kills any microorganisms and deactivates enzymes that can cause food spoilage. During canning, a vacuum seal is achieved while the jars cool. This process drives air from the jar, creating a vacuum seal as the food cools. This seal helps preserve canned food for 1 - 5 years.

How did canning start? Turns out we may have Napoleon and the French Government to thank. I feel like I have so much to thank the French for…fine cheeses, fine wine, fine pastries and now canning. Merci!

I don’t give canning recipes on my site because, well, there’s more to it than a little heat and if you don’t do it right, you could get sick. So, here’s my advice: Follow any USDA-approved recipe or better yet, learn all about canning in Living Homegrown’s Canning Academy. It’s a fantastic course that covers all sorts of territory and you’ll be better for it if you decide to do a lot of canning.

All prepped and ready to go with making tomato soup

All prepped and ready to go with making tomato soup

I tend to use a pressure canner for tomatoes because I have one and I don’t have to add acid to the jars, but the great thing about canning tomatoes is you can simply do it in hot water, so you don’t have to buy a lot of fancy equipment. Be sure to check it out and get your recipes from reputable sites.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 pound yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes (or equivalent home canned tomatoes)
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. In a large pot on medium heat,, melt the butter. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 15-20 minutes.

  2. Add flour and stir until thickened and it turns a light golden color, about 3 minutes. Do not allow to get too dark/brown.

  3. Stir in the tomatoes (including the juice), chicken broth, sugar, salt, celery salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium until the liquid bubbles, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot frequently.
    Note: the tomato liquid will vary if using your own canned tomatoes. Use your best judgment on whether you want to add all of the liquid or not.

  4. Stir in half-and-half and honey. Remove from heat and purée using a hand blender, or allow to cool until no longer steaming and purée in batches in a stand blender. Return to medium heat just until heated through. Serve hot.

This recipe is easy and so flavorful It serves about 8 servings and is inspired by a soup recipe on the NY Times Cooking site. Enjoy!

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine