This weekend has been great. The sun was shining during the day and the evenings were refreshingly cool. Brad and I had time to relax a bit in the mornings, which hasn’t happened in a long time, and even had a doggie play date for Callie. She was officially worn out and looked like this for the rest of the weekend…
Yes, it was a good weekend for all of us. Relaxed but still productive. When I have extra time like I did this weekend, I seem to get a burst of energy that helps me accomplish things that on most days are not possible. Today, I managed to make my own chicken stock using a chicken carcass I had hidden away in the freezer (appetizing, I know). One of these days I’ll share my stock recipe with you all. Every time I make it, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. The smell that wafts through every room is enough reason on its own, but the flavor that the stock brings to soups, stews, even pasta dishes, is beyond explanation. This afternoon, I decided to whip up some homemade tomato soup using the freshly made stock. To make things even better, the night before I had thrown together some homemade rosemary saltine crackers for a cheese plate. The leftovers were absolute perfection alongside the hearty tomato soup. Light, crispy, with the perfect amount of saltiness. The recipe for the crackers will be coming…don’t you worry!
I have loved tomato soup for quite a while. Usually accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich or a big stack of saltine crackers from the cupboard. But the deliciousness I found in my soup bowl today is on a completely different level from the congealed, condensed soup of my childhood.
I remember wondering, while watching the condensed tomato soup slide out of the can, slowly jiggling and wriggling its way into the saucepan on the stove, how on earth one would make something like that. The answer is this: you don’t. You make something better.
Tomato soup is one of those comfort foods that, if homemade, is easy to feel good about. Controlling exactly what goes into the soup gives me peace of mind. All those long words on the canned version sort of freak me out. It’s like taking a bite out of a car tire or something. It’s just not meant to be ingested! There is no excuse for not making your own tomato soup. This took me…wait for it…15 minutes!!!! Not even joking. I know…you’re shocked.
The flavor said “slow-roasted tomatoes and pain-stakingly long hours simmering”, but it was ready in no time at all! A bowl of flavorful tomato soup was the perfect lunch on Sunday afternoon. And with such a short amount of time spent slaving away, this is a great soup to make in large batches. Just split the soup into freezer bags and keep on hand for those cold winter days when you need something to warm you from the inside out.
Here’s a little secret…when you cook the onions, add a tablespoon or two of honey for a little extra depth and sweetness. Trust me when I say it adds a beautiful dimension to what could end up tasting a bit like marinara sauce if you’re not careful.
Tomato Soup and Rosemary Saltines
Makes about 1 1/2-2 quarts of soup
2 cans whole tomatoes
4 cups homemade chicken stock, or good quality store-bought
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons dried thyme
red pepper flakes
Strain the canned tomatoes over a bowl. Set the liquid aside for later.
Heat the butter in a medium pan with 3 inch sides and a lid. When the butter has melted, add the onions. Allow them to soften slightly, then add the honey. Stir until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the strained tomatoes and use a wooden spatula to break them apart slightly. Cook over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, the thyme, a modest sprinkle of salt, and about 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add the chicken stock and bring to a steady simmer. Add the remaining tomato liquid and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to smooth the soup (this is not required but it creates a silkier texture). If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender by adding the soup in small batches. Hot liquids tend to get a little out of control in the blender, so be careful!
Ladle into serving bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream if desired.