Tomatoes in summer? oh, sure, I like a good tomato sandwich as much as anyone (they are a summer staple lunch in fact). And roasted tomatoes, fast or slow, as well as tomato salad or gazpacho or the occasional tomato sorbet.
But in February nothing beats a lasagna redolent with garlicky and rosemary tomato sauce (unless it’s one with mushroom & bechamel) nor homemade pizza with thick red sauce. Or a piping hot tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich. All perfect comfort food that’s warming and delicious. A pleasure to eat when it’s gray and cold. And that is why I bother and can tomatoes.
The soup is easy, comforting and delicious. If you do not have homemade canned tomato puree or tomato, try a very good quality commercially canned tomatoes. But do not make this soup with the stuff that pass as “fresh tomatoes” in winter. Just don’t bother.
Don’t shorten the onion cooking step – the slow cooking brings body and mellowness to the soup.
To make the soup vegetarian use water or a light vegetable broth. To make it vegan, omit the dairy. In either case, it’s critical to propwerly slow-cooked the onions.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions
- ¼ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon whole celery seeds
- 1 quart canned tomato puree or whole canned plum tomatoes with their liquid
- 2 cups high-quality chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves to garnish
- Salt to taste
- Milk or half & half if desired, or additional broth
- Peel and thinly slice the onions. Heat oil in a large Dutch-oven pan over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté about 5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until onions until soft, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. Add a little more oil if necessary and adjust stove temperature down. Onions should be translucent and not brown.
- Increase the heat. Add spices and stir until fragrant—about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their liquid. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
- Puree soup in blender until smooth in small batches. Do not overload the blender; you’ll cover yourself with the hot liquid. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds, pressing on the solids as much as you can (unless the tomatoes were already seeded, don’t skip this step—the soup will be so much silkier!)
- Put puréed soup back into pot. Add broth (and/or milk or half and half if using) until desired consistency is reached. Salt to taste. Heat until hot. Garnish individual bowls with minced rosemary.