So, we still are getting some cold weather. (I snowed a bit the last couple days in North Carolina–silly groundhog and his silly shadow. I wonder why we get our meteorological advice from a rodent in this day and age.) My potage ran out as did my simpler butternut squash soup. I needed more soup to keep me warm, but the cold is doing a good job of convincing me to keep my more complex recipes to a minimum and stick to the simpler, quicker things. This tomato soup looked perfect. Rich and flavorful, but simple enough to keep ingredients to a minimum and the involvement low.
My deep dish pizza recipe already cribbed from Cook’s Illustrated, so why stop on Tuesday. This is their version of a creamy–creamless–tomato soup, and boy did they nail it. It’s a smooth, thick soup that puts the tomato flavor front and center. The thickness comes not from cream, but from torn pieces of bread that disintegrate into the soup and are then further blended into it. Not entirely unheard of, but still clever. All this makes for a delicious, but still low-fat and low-calorie soup.
A quick note though, this may be a tomato soup, but this is not vegetarian. Cook’s Illustrated uses chicken stock create a richness and depth to the soup. Vegetable stock would work to make this vegetarian and vegan friendly. The only thing that would be missing is the gelatin normally found in small amounts in real chicken stock. Go nuts though, there probably isn’t much gelatin in the store bought stuff anyway—just another good reason to make your own.
Creamy –creamless– Tomato Soup
From Cook’s Illustrated. [http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/detail.asp?docid=16872]
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
3 med garlic cloves, minced
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 (28-oz) cans crushed tomatoes (muir glen organic with basil is my favorite)
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 large slices sandwich bread (get something good, tear off the crusts)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I don’t need to say it again, but homemade is best)
2 tbsps brandy (I don’t know why Cook’s Illustrated says it’s optional, it’s excellent)
1. In a large pot over high heat, put in 2 tbsps olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper flakes, cook for 3 to 5 mins, stirring often, until the onion starts to get translucent. Add the garlic and bay leaf, cook for a minute more.
2. Add the tomatoes and their juice and mix well. Bring to a simmer. Tear the bread into chunks and stir it, and the sugar into the soup. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until bread starts to disintegrate, about 5 mins. Remove bay leaf.
3. Blend in batches with 1 tbsp oil and process until soup is smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the chicken broth and the brandy. Taste, add salt if needed.
4. Serve with cracked black pepper.