Nothing says “comfort food” like a bowl of creamy tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It is so basic, no wonder kids love it. Campbell’s may be convenient but the healthier version is homemade with fresh ingredients and no preservatives. When tomatoes are in season, buy a box of them and make your own puree. Pureed tomatoes freeze beautifully and make the best sauces, V-8 juice, and soup. With a simple food mill, there’s no need to skin tomatoes before cooking. If you don’t have a food mill, a China Cap or sieve will work. The trick is not to overcook these beauties. Wash and quarter tomatoes, place in a sauce pan over medium heat with a pinch of salt, do not add any water. The tomatoes will make their own juice so stir ocassionally and cook only until juices are rendered and tomatoes are tender but not mushy. Transfer the solids to a food mill and puree. The skins and seeds will be left in the food mill. Stir the juices and puree together and pour into freezer safe containers or zip-lock bags. You may can the puree also. Seal in sterilized jars and water-bath in enough boiling water to cover for 20-25 minutes. Jars will keep in a cool, dry pantry for several months.
Okay, now for the soup.
1 Tbsp butter (or olive oil)
1 carrot, chopped
1 stock of celery, tops and all chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cups tomato puree (homemade is best)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp sugar (or honey)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp dried dill)
1 cup half and half
Saute onion, celery, and carrot in butter, transfer to food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of tomato puree to blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a sauce pan, add remaining tomato puree, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, add thyme and half and half. Cook until heated through. Adjust seasonings and serve. Garnish with croutons, fresh basil, dill, chives, scallions, or parsley. Serve with crakers or your favorite toasted cheese sandwich.