Almost Instant Tomato Soup
Do you miss the convenience of canned tomato soup, even as you want better control of what you eat? Try this quick, easy, almost instant tomato soup!
Tomato soup… It was up there, in my childhood, with chicken noodle soup as something that surely everyone ate… Tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Tomato soup served in a mug to sip along with macaroni and cheese (red can, blue box, right?) Tomato soup with crackers for a touchy tummy, when you were just starting to get better. And sometimes your mom filled the empty can with milk, instead of water, and you had – wait for it – cream of tomato soup! Right?
And it is one of the foods many of us are no longer eating, as we look more dubiously at the ingredients list, or worry about cross contamination, or… But we miss both the warm rich comfort and the convenience. It was so versatile! You could fill a thermos, and give a packed lunch a little more warmth and staying power (and a serving of vegetables.) You could serve a cup of soup as a first course at dinner, and feel quite elegant. And all this with no fuss! Heat and eat!
Well… this is almost as easy. Almost as fast. Almost instant tomato soup, in fact… And you control the ingredients, and can vary them to taste. And all you have to do is stir them in, in the correct order.
Now – the order does matter. It sounds silly – this is one of the easiest recipes I’m giving you, but it took me several versions before I was happy with it. The reason is that this is Cream of Tomato Soup – and the acid in the tomatoes curdles the milk if you don’t get it just right… (Fresh tomatoes are less acidic than canned – but this is a winter soup, made with canned tomatoes, because that’s what is available.) Each version tasted good, mind you – but a couple looked funny… I put everything in the pot together, and it totally curdled. (Too bad, I was hoping that would work!) I made a white sauce and added tomatoes (which is essentially what my old recipes call for.) Better but grainy. Third time was the winner.
In the version that worked best, I took a can of crushed tomatoes and put them in a pot. (I believe that’s called passata, in the UK?) I chose to season it with 1 teaspoon of dried basil and half a teaspoon of dried oregano – you can vary that, if you wish. Then I added 2 roux cubes – you can use the original or the gluten free, whichever you want or need (or have…) Put the pot over medium heat, and stir frequently. The roux gradually melts off the cubes and blends gently – without lumping – into the tomato. As it comes to a boil, it will thicken quite a bit – start stirring constantly, at this point. You get that molten lava effect, and it will spit (I left the spatter on the stove in the picture so you remember to watch for that!) Stirring minimizes spitting, but stand back. (You, of course, don’t have to stop stirring and take pictures – so don’t.)
Once it is thick, lower the heat, pour in the milk, and stir it well. Now, at this point, you may have a moment when it looks as if the milk is starting to curdle – don’t worry. I found it really smoothed out as I stirred and it heated. Continue stirring as it heats. When it was ready to serve, I added a dash of Tabasco – it is made with vinegar, so again, even that dash could contribute to curdling earlier. Timing is everything.
You can vary the seasoning to your taste. (I might add a little precooked garlic, another time.) You can use this as a base and add some more vegetables – leftovers, frozen peas – to make it more filling. (It’s really too thick to add more than that.) Really, though – as we’ve eaten a lot of this in the last two weeks – we like it as the side dish that makes the meal feel complete. If I were packing lunches right now I’d carry it in a sealed travel mug, to drink along with my salad or sandwich – I’ll be doing that in a month or so, when I start eating out in parks, again, and may still want a little warmth to my lunch!
Almost Instant Tomato Soup
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 t dried basil
- 1/2 t dried oregano
- 2 roux cubes gluten free or original
- 2 c milk
- dash Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
- Place tomatoes, herbs, and roux cubes in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the cubes are dissolved and it starts to simmer. Then stir constantly until the tomatoes thicken.
- Lower the heat. Add the milk, while stirring. Continue stirring until the soup reaches serving temperature.
- Add hot sauce to taste, if desired.