Cream of Tomato Soup

serves 4

2.5 lbs very ripe tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1.5 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1/4-1 cup cream

The tomatoes should be very ripe – nearly going bad.  If they are this ripe, you can usually peel them as is.  If the skins are a bit more tenacious, cut an X on the bottom of the tomato and drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Under running water, they should peel easily.  Remove the seeds and chop.

Just a note here about the importance of this step.  I once made this recipe with a TON of cherry tomatoes from the ‘weed’ plant near the chicken coop that would not stop producing no matter what abuse I threw at it.  There was no way I was going to peel and deseed 2.5 pounds of cherry tomatoes.  Well…I will never again bother to make this recipe with anything other than big, easy to peel fruits.  Big mistake leaving the skins and seeds.  So take the time and do this first step!

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat until soft – 5 minutes or so.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes until they are very soft.  Add the stock (depending on how juicy the tomatoes are, start with the lower amount – you can always add later) and bring to a boil, lowering heat and simmering for 10 minutes.

I always use an immersion (stick) blender at this point.  If you don’t have one, let the soup cool slightly before putting it in a blender or food processor.  Blend until nice and smooth.  If allowed to cool, put the soup back on the heat.

Add tomato paste and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Turn the heat off.  Once the soup stops bubbling add the cream to taste.  Using the entire cup will make a decadently creamy soup (more like Cream and Tomato Soup…oh so good!).  You can easily get away with 1/4 cup for a more robust tomato flavor.  Experiment with what you like!

And finally, add salt to taste.  I happen to use rather salty stock – Better than Bouillon – and don’t find that this soup needs any additional salt.

Oh, and it never hurts to add a little chopped parsley or basil to the top with a swirl of cream.  I really, really meant to get a picture of my beautiful finished soup…but it simply disappeared too fast.  I do think this picture is endorsement enough though!

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