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March 4, 2010

Recipe for winter tomato soup

Winter tomato soup

In medieval times, alchemy described the magical process by which base metals could be turned into gold. In the kitchen, when simple canned tomatoes meet onions, garlic, chicken stock and herbs, a kind of alchemy takes place, and the result is a rich, but delicate, winter tomato soup. This soup improves on the second day, though it's so good on the first day that there's often not one drop left. Store it in the refrigerator for one day, or freeze it for a couple of months. And remember to serve it with a great sandwich, like grilled cheese, or a less traditional option: turkey with mustard and spring greens on oatmeal-cranberry-pecan bread.

Winter tomato soup

Inspired by a recipe in Fine Cooking. Serves 6.


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed
2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock (I like Swanson 99%)
26-oz box Pomi chopped tomatoes (or other good quality chopped tomatoes, with their juice)
1 tsp sugar or 1 packet sugar substitute
1-1/2 tsp dry thyme leaf or 1 sprig fresh thyme
2 Tbsp tomato paste
A pinch of mild red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Additional fresh thyme, basil, chives, dill or parsley, for garnish (I used some chopped scallions, but herbs would be better. I didn't have any on hand.)


In a 3-4 quart Dutch oven or heavy non-reactive stock pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. When the butter melts, add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not brown (5-6 minutes). Add the flour, and stir for one minute, until the flour coats the onions.

Add the broth, tomatoes, sugar, thyme, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until the soup is lightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer the soup for 30 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig, if using fresh thyme. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, and let the soup cool for 15 minutes.

Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a standing blender), puree the soup to desired consistency. Again, taste for seasoning. Reheat if needed before serving, or allow to cool completely and refrigerate. Just before serving, garnish with fresh herbs.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Meeta | March 4, 2010 at 04:53 AM

i could have tomato soup throughout the year. it's so homey and comfy. love the heat from red pepper flakes here!

Posted by: T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types | March 4, 2010 at 05:59 AM

I love this - so easy, and I've got everything in the pantry!

Posted by: mary beth | March 4, 2010 at 07:03 AM

Can't wait to try this one! Have been making one soup recipe every weekend since fall. I was wondering, of all your favorite soup cookbooks, which "ONE" book do you like the best? I would like to add a new soup cookbook to my collection. Thanks for setting up this new blog. Looking forward to hearing about you're soup ventures.

Posted by: Kalynskitchen | March 4, 2010 at 08:04 AM

Wow, what a gorgeous photo of the tomato soup. The color just pops off the screen. Do you believe I've never once made homemade tomato soup, and it was my favorite soup from childhood to eat with grilled cheese of course!

Posted by: The Cooking Ninja | March 4, 2010 at 08:14 AM

I love tomato soup but I would replace flour & sugar from the above recipe with potato and carrots giving it a natural goodness.

Posted by: Lori @ RecipeGirl | March 4, 2010 at 08:35 AM

I used to love the Campbell's sort but tried it again recently and it completely grossed me out. Homemade all the way now! Grilled cheese is my fave to dunk in tomato soup- but it has to be a good one with a thick & melty layer of cheese.

When I was little, I used to tear up slices of American cheese and just let them float in the soup. Loved the way it got all melty and gooey and became part of the soup!

Posted by: Alta | March 4, 2010 at 08:52 AM

Love some good homemade tomato soup. Looks divine.

Posted by: Alanna | March 4, 2010 at 08:53 AM

Try roasting the tomatoes with a little brown sugar (just a little, like a tablespoon for the whole 26/28 ounces) for a half hour before continuing as you write. Wow!

Posted by: Maria | March 4, 2010 at 09:17 AM

I love a good tomato soup and this one looks superb!

Posted by: Teresa | March 4, 2010 at 10:04 AM

This recipe is similar to the one I've been making for years. I need to make this very soon!

Posted by: Karina | March 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Gorgeous soup, Lydia! Tomato soup is such a retro favorite around here. Comfort food heaven. I like the pepper flakes to kick it up!

Posted by: pam | March 4, 2010 at 07:36 PM

I love a good tomato soup. So heartwarming and good for you!

Posted by: Lydia | March 4, 2010 at 11:07 PM

Meeta, the red pepper flakes are totally to taste, but you know I love food a bit on the spicy side, so my pinch was a big one.

TW, that's what I love about this. A real pantry special.

Mary Beth, I don't play favorites with my cookbooks(!), but if you like photos, go with Sunday Soups; if you don't care about photos, go with Soup: A Way of Life.

Kalyn, tomato soup (from a can, of course) was my favorite when I was growing up, too. With grilled cheese -- made with white bread and American cheese slices.

Cooking Ninja, those are great substitutions. I'm not crazy about cooked carrots (though I love raw ones), but they are a wonderful natural sweetener.

Lori, I'm giggling, because I did exactly the same thing with the cheese on the soup! I've never heard of anyone else who did.

Alta, Maria, Teresa, Pam: Thanks. This is really a delicious soup.

Alanna, great idea about roasting the tomatoes!

Karina, it's a blast from the past, but the red pepper flakes make this soup very "today".

Posted by: Cookin' Canuck | March 5, 2010 at 08:37 AM

Tomato soup with a little grated Parmesan cheese in top is one of my favorite winter lunches. The color and creaminess (without the cream - yay!) of your soup is so enticing. When I was a kid, my parents and I liked to eat it with a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich on the side.

Posted by: Small Bites | March 5, 2010 at 11:24 AM

sounds delicious! nothing beats hot soup on a chilly day!

Posted by: Cassandra | March 5, 2010 at 03:25 PM

Can I just say "yum"?!

I'm in college and I made this for the entree at our weekly roommate dinner. My roommates and assorted friends who disdained tomato soup up and down the board are now devotees. They requested it again next week, but I think I may make one of your veggie soups instead! What a great way to beat the Wyoming winter chill!

Posted by: PJ | March 6, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Winter tomato soup looks so delicious and a very vibrant photo. I like that there is no cream added to this, I always like my tomato/red pepper soups without the cream.. the cream seems to overpower the vegetables, well, atleast for me :)

I am first time visitor here from Kalyn's blog; looking forward to many more delicious soups.

Posted by: Deb | March 9, 2010 at 09:16 AM

Kalyn's photo of your beautiful winter tomato soup led me here. I've never made homemade tomato soup either, and it's my husband's favorite (shame on me). Can't wait to try the recipe and will visit here often!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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