By Catherine Newman
Makes: 6 servings
Total carbohydrates: 12 grams per serving
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Tomato soup is a comforting classic for a reason: it’s pretty and creamy; it’s tangy and rich; and you know you’re going to like it before you even take that first bite. Plus, this soup takes very kindly to variation. Two favorites of mine: adding a sliced-up head of fennel when I’m sautéing the other vegetables, and/or adding something smoky, such as chipotle puree or smoked paprika. And would a little grated cheddar hurt any? I happen to know it would not.
You’ll see in the recipe a note about adding a tiny pinch of baking soda if the soup tastes too acidic: essentially, the baking soda reacts with the acid—it will froth up like one of those volcano science projects—thereby escorting some of the acidity out of the soup in the form of. . . some kind of gas. (I remembered! It’s carbon dioxide!) Anyway, you won’t need it unless your tomatoes are really not sweet, but it’s nice to have an option besides adding sugar, which we are not doing. (Also, I love to see my own handwritten recipe note, which says, “A pinch of b.s.”)
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped (with some leaves from the middle of the bunch, if they’re handy)
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon table salt)
1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole or crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano whenever I can)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups heavy cream (hold back a couple spoonfuls for drizzling, if you like)
Pinch of baking soda (optional)
Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a heavy soup pot, then add the onion, celery, carrots, and salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have given up their liquid, that liquid has cooked off, and the onions are translucent and starting to turn golden, around 10-15 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and broth and bring to a simmer over high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pot, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, until you can smoosh a carrot on the side of the pot with your spoon.
Stir in the cream, and then puree the soup in a blender, in batches. You know how to do this safely, right? Fill the blender jar only half full, remove the center of the lid and use a dish towel over the hole (this prevents steam building up and blowing the lid off). You could use a stick blender if you prefer, but the soup won’t get as smooth.
Return the soup to the pot, add a big grinding of black pepper, reheat gently over low heat, and then taste. You are likely going to need to add more salt and/or, if the soup is too acidic, a pinch of baking soda (see headnote). You want the soup to taste balanced and delicious. Keep adding and stirring and tasting, even if it feels like it’s taking a long time to get it exactly right.
Serve the soup with a decorative drizzle of cream.