Doesn’t everyone think that tomato soup and grilled cheese naturally go together?
Well, say goodbye to the canned stuff and hello to this lovely, silky, seriously delicious tomatoey bowl of goodness.
This creamy soup is quick and easy to make and surprisingly light and good for you. Relying on more milk than heavy cream, you can feel healthy and virtuous about eating (several bowls of) this soup.
While technically it’s not a “bisque” since it does not have seafood in it, calling it Cream of Anything just gets us back to the images of cans and doesn’t do this lovely soup justice. So Bisque it is!
Here’s what you need:
Canned Tomatoes, Onion, Celery, Carrots, Garlic, Fresh Thyme, Butter, Flour, Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth), Tomato Paste, Milk, Heavy Cream, Sugar, Bay Leaves, Red Pepper Flakes, Salt & Pepper.
Every good soup begins with a base of vegetables for flavor. Chop up 1 large onion, 1-2 carrots, 1 stalk of celery, and 3-4 cloves of garlic.
Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat and sauté the onions, carrots, and celery for about 5 minutes. This gives them a head start getting tender and also gives them a little more flavor by cooking and caramelizing in the butter. After the veggies are tender but not browned, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
We add the garlic last so that it doesn’t brown and turn bitter. Stir in 1/4 cup of flour to make a roux or thickener for the soup.
Stir the four into the vegetables until it is thick and pasty
then add 4 cups of chicken broth. Obviously you can substitute vegetable broth if you want to go vegetarian with this soup.
Stir the broth into the flour and vegetables until it is smooth and lump free.
Open 2 (28 ounce) cans of whole tomatoes and drain the juice into the soup pot. Roughly chop the tomatoes just to cut them open – they can be in fairly large chunks because we will eventually blend the soup to make it smooth.
Add the tomatoes to the pot and season with 1 teaspoon of sugar to help cut the acidity. Add 1-2 dried bay leaves and ½-1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to taste.
If you have fresh thyme, toss a few sprigs right into the pot. If you only have dried thyme, use only about 1/2 teaspoon as it has a much stronger flavor dried than fresh.
Bring the soup to a boil then turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
When the vegetables are quite tender remove the bay leaves and any stems from the thyme. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is velvety smooth.
The immersion blender (or stick blender) is one of my favorite kitchen tools. If you like soup, it is definitely worth the investment. You can also use it for making spreads like hummus and even whipping cream.
If you don’t have one, you can certainly use a traditional blender. However, be very careful when blending hot liquids like soup. You want to work in small batches only filling the blender about half full as hot liquids expand when you blend them. For extra protection, put a towel and your hand firmly on the lid unless you want to redecorate your kitchen.
When the soup is very smooth stir in 3 Tablespoons of tomato paste to add some extra depth to the tomato flavor.
Pour in 3/4 cup of milk (I used 2%) and 1/4 cup of heavy cream. It’s amazing how just a tiny bit of cream boosts the flavor and texture of the soup but still keeps it healthy and fairly low in fat.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep the soup warm on low heat. It is important that the soup does not boil once the milk has been added or it will separate.
Because every bowl of tomato soup deserves a good grilled cheese sandwich, AND because Jim’s parents gave me a fabulous panini press for Christmas, I decided to go crazy with a roasted turkey, apple, and brie panini.
Grade school lunch goes upscale.
Once you’ve made the basic recipe, you have endless options for toppings or flavor combinations. Want Tomato Basil soup? Just add some chopped fresh basil at the end of cooking or even stir in a few spoonfuls of pesto.
Here’s the recipe: