Homemade tomato soup

Homemade Tomato Soup

September 24, 2009 · 31 comments

Do you remember the tomato soup of your childhood? I do. It came in a can, and the second ingredient was high-fructuse corn syrup. As a hungry 10-year-old, the sweetness of the soup was an ideal companion for my grilled kraft cheese sandwich. I had no idea, nor did many people in the early 1980s, the health risks associated with such a seemingly harmless product made by the iconic Campbell’s Soup Company.

Now that I know better, I make my own tomato soup. This one has dry-farmed early girl tomatoes and ciollini onions from a local farm, and aged balsamic vinegar for a little extra tang. If you can’t make this soup within the next couple of weeks, buy the tomatoes, blanch, peel and stick in the freezer for a cold winter’s night, when you’re craving a taste of summer.

Dry-farmed early girl tomatoes are intense. Intense like nectarines on their ripest day, or strawberries at their peak. They’re called dry-farmed because after the seedlings are transplanted to the garden, you basically stop watering them. The lack of water forces the roots to dig deep for moisture, and concentrates their flavor. This technique produces a sweetness unlike any tomato you’ve ever had – even heirlooms. I tested out early girls from a few different farms, and surprise surprise, the tastiest were from Dirty Girl Farms. If you’re unfamiliar with Dirty Girl, maybe you’ve heard of Alice Water’s Chez Panisse? Dirty Girl supplies them, and other top Bay Area restaurants, with their grade-A produce.

homemade tomato soup 2

I blanched the tomatoes first to remove the skins and roasted them with cipollini onions, garlic and balsamic vinegar. You can roast, then de-skin, but I find you lose too much precious tomato with that method. Next I whisked together a roux with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour, just to thicken it a tad. You can even skip this step and not miss a thing. Puree the tomatoes, add some vegetable stock (homemade), and have some crusty Parmesan croutons for dipping.

Before I divulge the recipe for the best tomato soup I’ve ever had, I have a favor to ask. Foodbuzz is giving out coveted awards to worthy food bloggers, and I would love your support. Please vote for Local Lemons for “Best Recipe Blog” and “Blogger You’d Most Like to See Open a Restaurant.” It will only take a minute–click here to vote. Don’t feel obligated to fill out the entire survey…

And, Kirsten from California Olive Ranch set up a special discount for Local Lemon readers, so if you want to try out their amazing olive oil (I suggest the Arbequina) do so before October 31st and type in coupon code LOCAL for Free Shipping. Thanks Kirsten! Now for that recipe…

homemade tomato soup 5

3 ½ pounds dry-farmed, early girl tomatoes
4 cipollini onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons high-quality, aged balsamic vinegar
2 cups tomato stock (I used stock from my tomato sauce, but you can use vegetable stock)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 rustic baguette, sliced
A few leaves of basil to garnish
½ – 1 cup Stella parmesan, grated (Stella is a softer, creamier domestic parmesan, and perfect for melting.)
*optional: If your tomatoes aren’t early girls, you may want to add 1/2 tablespoon organic sugar–but taste before adding it.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly cut an “X” into the bottom of the tomatoes, just cutting through the skin. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Remove the skins, cut each tomato in half and place in a deep roasting dish. Some people may want to remove the seeds, but seeds don’t bother me.

Add onions, garlic, balsamic vinegar and a generous swirl of olive oil to the roasting dish, stir to combine Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Place tomato mixture in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Heat up a cast-iron dutch oven on medium heat and melt butter. When it starts to bubble, add the flour and whisk continuously until it turns a light golden brown. Add pureed tomatoes to the roux and stir. Add stock and turn heat to medium-low. Let cook for 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Lower oven to 350F. Drizzle baguette slices with olive oil and sprinkle with grated cheese. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. Switch to the broiler and broil for one more minute, or until cheese is golden.

Dip toasty, cheesy bread in the hot soup. Garnish with chopped basil.

Where I Shopped:
Dry-farmed early girl tomatoes, cipollini onions:
Berkeley’s Tuesday Farmers’ Market, Dirty Girl Farms
Aged balsamic vinegar, stella parmesan: Berkeley Bowl, Berkeley
Rustic baguette: La Farine Bakery, Oakland

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{ 4 trackbacks }

Lick My Spoon» Soup Season
October 5, 2009 at 2:34 am
Chez Us » Homemade Tomato Soup
October 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm
December 11, 2009 at 9:51 am
Tomato soup « LOLkitchen Blog
April 22, 2010 at 1:27 am

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

rach September 24, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I also think dirty girl is the coolest name.
Look at that soup, it is so beautifully red red red.
really great photo by the way.


Dana September 24, 2009 at 10:38 pm

That first photo is the most beautiful picture of the most beautiful tomato. And the soup…well, I just want to dive in and float around on one of those croutons. Even with the heat we had this summer, we don’t get tomatoes like those. You are lucky!


Darya @ Summer Tomato September 24, 2009 at 11:22 pm

I am SO excited about this! Wow. And, I know I mentioned this on Twitter, but just want to reiterate that I’ve been a loyally devoted Dirty Girl minion for years (they literally changed my life), but this year I must say I’ve been most impressed with Tomatero farm. I don’t know if they have East Bay outlets, but they are at the Noe Valley and Alemany markets on Saturdays and Mission Bay on Wednesdays for sure. Give them a try if you get the chance.


Sophie September 25, 2009 at 9:17 am

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,…a beautiful soup!!

Georgous pictures again!!


Chez US September 25, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I love tomato soup and I really love dry farmed tomatoes, this looks and sounds wonderful. Adding it to our test kitchen! :)


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 25, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Your soup looks beautiful! I love the first picture of the tomato… Amazing!


Angela@spinachtiger September 25, 2009 at 5:44 pm

I swear we cook alike, only you can get do local much better than I can. My choices here can be grim, but I’m trying. Hooray for homemade tomato soup, booo to that canned stuff (we thought was great back then). The simple thing done well are the best.


Lea Ann September 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Thank you so much for this recipe. I still have a kitchen counter full of tomatoes from the garden. This soup is next on the list for dinner. It looks and sounds delicious. Beautiful pictures!!!


Jessica Lee Binder September 26, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Oh man. I wish we had these vendors here. The dry growing technique sounds so interesting. I wonder if any of the farms do that near me. Gotta go looking around…


Erica September 27, 2009 at 9:05 am

I love those pictures!!!!! That soup looks fantastic!


Rebecca September 28, 2009 at 8:58 am

Such a pleasure meeting you this weekend. I hope we stay in touch! Keep up the great work, this blog is beautiful. (And your tomato soup will eb on the menu tonight!)


Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen September 28, 2009 at 1:54 pm

That looks absolutely delicious!


Cynthia September 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Beautiful photos. Now’s the time to take advantage of the last of the summer tomatoes, right? Also, thanks for the free shipping on olive oil. I’ve been meaning to have a tasting at my home, and this might just make the list!


GrilledShane October 3, 2009 at 7:47 am

Your photos are amazing! I haven’t visited in awhile and I come and see this. What a great entry! Your passion for local goods should be applauded. Well done! I will definitely have to try this…maybe with a grilled cheese! :)

P.S. Hopefully you submitted your photo(s) to Tastespotting/Foodgawker!


Allison Arevalo October 3, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Thanks so much Shane! This soup would be awesome with grilled cheese! In fact, I got the idea for it because a street cart in Oakland sells gazpacho with grilled cheese, made with homemade mozzarella cheese. But while I was eating it, I was wishing the gazpacho was a hot cup of tomato soup.


GrilledShane October 4, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Homemade mozzarella cheese?! Yum! Haha. That in of itself sounds awesome. Gazpacho isn’t bad but with the weather here (cool/overcast), I definitely need hot soup. However, I assume it is a little nicer out near you!


Mary October 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm

I look forward to trying the recipe. Just wanted to pass on a shortcut if you’re freezing your tomatoes for winter. You can skip the blanch-&-peel step and just pop them in the freezer. Any time you want one (or more), just pull it out and peel it while running it under cold water. The skins slip right off.


Georgia October 4, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Gorgeous Photos!


Caitlin October 6, 2009 at 4:31 pm

The pic of the tomato is beautiful…great recipe too!


Christopher Austin October 8, 2009 at 6:57 pm

This looks like a fantastically simple recipe. No matter what your level of expertise in cooking is; if you stick to fresh, local ingredients and keep the recipe simple, the dish will end up gourmet.

I love the fact that you add the Balsamic before roasting.

Also your pictures are beautiful.

Have you ever tried frying the basil leaves before you add them as a garnish?


amelia October 27, 2009 at 9:19 am

Wonderful. I sometimes use chicken stock and a little bit of sherry to add layers of flavor.


mary December 17, 2010 at 9:51 am

gorgeous soup. I’m been living the past few months in snowy germany, where the scenery is beautiful, but the tomatoes are mealy. I tried out this recipe anyway with a mixture of softening tomatoes (cocktail, cherry, vine rippend) that were about to spoil. Roasting the tomatoes with a bit of balsamic really brought out their flavors,. I didn’t have cipollini onions, so substituted yellow onions, and didn’t bother blanching the tomatoes. I roasted a few whole garlic cloves in their skins and simmered the soup with a bay leaf and old parmesan rind. Even after so many modifications and the use of subpar tomatoes, the soup was delicious and perfect for a snowy night.


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I read a lot of posts related to this but I’ve enjoyed yours the most so far. I’ll probably be back soon.


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Laurin July 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I was curious about whether or not you have noticed any negative effects from cooking your tomato soup in cast iron. I know that the high acid content of tomatoes can cause reactions with the iron, and have always been told to steer clear of cooking high acid dishes in my cast iron cookware. Do you notice any change in the seasoning, or a difference in the results or flavor if you prepare this soup in another pot?


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