In the spirit of this project I’ve tried to describe, as best I can, how I make this, so the recipe below doesn’t look exactly like the one you’d find in Cooks Illustrated. Assume that anything screwy is my fault, and credit all deliciousness to CI. This looks and smells like the tomato soup you grew up with, but brother, it ain’t Campbell’s! I usually make grilled cheese to eat with this, but it’s so rich and flavorful that it isn’t necessary to go to the trouble: good bread for dipping is all you really need.
Cooks Illustrated‘s Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup
-2 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes (not packed in purée)
-2 tablespoons brown sugar
-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
-1/2 cup shallots, minced
-1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
-pinch ground allspice
-2 tablespoons AP flour
-1 3/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-2 glugs brandy or dry sherry (about 2 tablespoons)
-kosher salt to taste
-cayenne pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice. Ideally you’ll get 3 cups, but I usually end up with about 2 1/2: use water or stock to make up the difference. Seed the tomatoes (do this in the sink under running water, because it can get messy). Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil. Spread the tomatoes over the foil in a single layer, and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes are starting to color (this should take about 30 minutes). Let the tomatoes cool, then peel them off the foil, transfer to a small bowl, and set aside.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in shallots, tomato paste, and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until shallots are softened. Increase heat to medium. Whisk in flour and cook for a minute or two, whisking constantly. Slowly add stock, whisking constantly. Add tomatoes and reserved tomato juice. Increase heat to medium-high, cover, and bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.
3. Remove soup from heat and let it cool a bit. Then purée until smooth using a food processor or blender.
4. Stir cream into puréed mixture and heat over low heat until hot. Remove from heat. Stir in brandy or sherry and add kosher salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Serve immediately!
Serves: 2-4, depending on how hungry everyone is.
Notes: If you’re making this for yourself, stop after step 3, refrigerate or freeze half of the soup, and save it for another night.
“A Recipe a Week” is a regular series that consists of excerpts from a food zine I’m working on. Links to all previous entries can be found here.