Homemade Garden Tomato Soup

My all-time favorite soup and sandwich combo, especially as the weather turns cooler in the fall, is grilled cheese and tomato soup. I think I ate this every single Monday night in college, heading directly to the dining hall from chorus rehearsal. (I'm pretty sure I had French fries and Texas Pete on the side as well. Can't pretend I was too all-fired concerned about healthy eating at The Pit.)

Since it's much cooler now, and since Wednesdays involve a lot of chauffeuring the kids around, it was a perfect night for some tomato soup. It's quick and easy, even to make from scratch and not from a can. Here's what I did:

Garden Tomato Soup

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
3 ribs celery
1 red bell pepper
6 basil leaves (about 2 Tbs. fresh)
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1 Tbs. flour
1/4 cup half and half
1 quart canned tomato sauce (plain, no seasoning)
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste (you can use a heavy hand here)
1-2 dashes of cayenne pepper

1. Mince the herbs and fresh vegetables as finely as you can. I just threw it all in the food processor and blitzed it into itty bits.


2. While you're doing that, warm the olive oil in a medium pan, then add the minced vegetables. Stir until they are sizzling and softened. I added a bit of salt and pepper at this step as well. 


3. And I added a secret ingredient at this step as well:


This is some Herb Salt that we received in trade for some tomatoes last weekend. It's pink and sea salts with thyme, rosemary, and sage. This was made by Constance B. Wilder, and it is delicious! As she is a local author, perhaps we can get her to guest blog and share the recipe for it!

4. Once the veggies are well sautéed, add the flour and stir in, then add the half and half and stir in, until mixed well in the pan:


5. At this point, transfer the veg to a saucepot, set the heat to medium, and add the tomato sauce (or puree). Stir well, adding the brown sugar, Worcestershire, cayenne, and additional salt and pepper. You may also add some extra half and half here, depending on how creamy you like it (I added about an extra 1/4 cup or so). Taste often at this step as you stir to get it right (which is, of course, just how you like it): 


6. Once you're happy with the taste, let it warm through on medium heat (no need to boil--that's too messy with tomato soup). Serve hot, with grilled cheese:


I know that seems kind of complicated, but with the food processor, it went really fast, and you can do it while getting the sandwiches grilled up. It makes about 6 servings, so the leftovers are going to make for some good lunches for the rest of the week. 

Also, I must report that even Jonas liked this. The last time we had tomato soup (Campbells'), he was in tears of disgust: "I'll NEVER get over the tomato soup!"

Well, now he's over it.  

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