Paula’s Palate: Soup recipe 11/24/15

One Soup To Rule Them All

Everyone loves tomato soup, and the pairing of such with a crusty, buttery grilled cheese is one of the greatest culinary duets to ever be sung. The tart acidity and sweetness of the soup and the cheesy, crunchy savory of the sandwich makes for heavenly pairing that no man should put asunder. That being said, I’m about to introduce you to a tomato soup which might just make you forget the sandwich. Really. This is a tomato soup so good it will be the only one you’ll ever need.

Tomato talk

But before the soup, there is the tomato: an edible, often red berry-type fruit of the nightshade Solanum lycopersicum. The English word tomato comes from the Spanish word, tomate, derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word, tomatl. When this South American native began making its way around the world it was regarded with fear and suspicion, or prized as an ornament, grown in flower gardens for the beauty of its fruit, not to be consumed. Indeed the tomato’s nickname was “poison apple” because it was thought that aristocrats got sick and died after eating them. The truth of the matter was that wealthy Europeans used pewter plates, which were high in lead content. Because tomatoes are so high in acidity, the fruit would leach lead from the plate, resulting in many deaths from lead poisoning. No one made this connection between plate and poison at the time; the tomato was picked as the culprit. So prized and reviled, the tomato has quite a story behind its shiny skin. Now back to the soup.

This is a recipe made by one of the finest cooks I’ve known, and adapted slightly to taste (mine). It might appear a little cumbersome due to the different steps and equipment required, but go with me on this one. You will be glad you did.

Cream Of Tomato Soup

2 28oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes in juice, drained with the liquid reserved, enough to make 3 cups
(you can use regular tomatoes for this. If you do, be more generous with the sugar)

Dark brown sugar- the recipe calls for only 1 1/2T but I use more. Lots more. 

4T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

4 large minced shallots

1 heaping T tomato paste

A liberal pinch of ground allspice

2 T flour

1 3/4 C chicken broth

1/2 – 3/4 C heavy cream

2T brandy or dry sherry-I never measure- a good glug works fine

Salt and cayenne papper

Gentlemen start your ovens!
First step: Heat your Oven to 450. This might put some people off, but it’s the key to the depth of flavor this soup delivers, and it comes from roasting the tomatoes with brown sugar. Cover a baking sheet with foil so you can easily scrape all the juice into the pot later. Seed and spread the tomatoes and cover with a good sprinkle of brown sugar. Don’t skimp. Pop them in the oven for 30 minutes.

Second step: Stovetop. Use a large deep pot to melt the butter till foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste, and a good pinch of allspice (I LOVE the taste of allspice, and am not shy with it). Lower heat and stir for 10 minutes. Add flour and whisk for 30 seconds, then add chicken broth, tomatoes, and the 3 cups of tomato liquid. Cover, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low for 10 minutes.

Third step: Here’s where your life will either be easy or complicated. Easy if you have a stick blender. (If you don’t, get one. It puts your blender almost in retirement.) Puree the soup with the stick blender, or use a regular one. Either works, just a lot more clean up with a regular blender. Add the cream and warm through, then add the brandy and cayenne and salt if needed.

Serve warm in winter, cold in summer, and don’t boil when reheating. You can add a few cheddar croutons right in the soup, or go ahead and experiment with perfecting your grilled cheese. You will have already done that with the soup.


Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula


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