I've been searching a long time for a tomato soup recipe that has an interesting and truly tomatoey taste. So many versions are overpowered by seasonings, or cream, and not worth the time to make.

Like most soups, this is best cooked at least a day ahead so the flavors can dance while sitting overnight. And of course, the cook will enjoy it more after a 24-hour rest from fussing over the preparation. Add the cream and sherry the day of serving if you do this.

I do have a few cook's notes for this recipe. If anyone in your household doesn't like the heat of peppers, reduce the crushed red pepper flakes to a small pinch. You can use regular canned diced or chopped tomatoes, but go for quality over price here, because the tomatoes are the star of the soup. I use Muir Glen® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes but I doubt you can find them outside of the US and Canada. As long as we're talking brands, I usually use Swanson's Natural Goodness® reduced sodium chicken broth when I don't have homemade on hand.

Bon appétit - and do change any of the seasonings to suit the taste of your family or other dining partners. This will make about five 8-ounce servings. Serve up with a grilled or toasted cheese sandwich.

(Metric measurements are pipelinked in the ingredient list.)

Fire roasted tomato soup

1 tablespoon olive oil ( you don't need the good stuff)
1 small carrot, fine dice
1/2 stalk celery, fine dice
1 medium onion, fine dice
2 cloves garlic, finely diced or pressed
3 14.5 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1-3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup light cream
Dry sherry

1. Heat the olive oil in a 2.5-3quart sauce pan just until it starts to smoke. Add the diced carrot and celery and sauté until they start to soften. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Toss in the garlic and sauté until fragrant.

2. Add the tomatoes, broth, basil pepper flakes and sugar; bring to a full boil, turn down the flame, and simmer for about half an hour. The mixture isn't going to look very appetizing, but don't stress about it (yet). Cool mixture to room temperature.

3. Purée the cooled tomato mixture (in two-three batches) in a blender. Now it looks like soup! You can refrigerate the purée at this point, or proceed to the next step.

4. Reheat the tomato purée just to a simmer. Toss in a couple shot glasses of sherry and stir. Add the cream and serve immediately.

5. Sit down, relax and enjoy your soup!

Credit where credit is due: this is was inspired by a recipe on the Muir Glen Organic web site.

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