Forget tomato soup from a can. Velvety smooth, homemade cream of tomato soup from scratch is rich, creamy, comforting and bursting with delicious flavor.
How many of you can remember having the chicken pox as a kid? Nowadays, there a vaccine for that. It is one of those diseases that my kids will hopefully never know, gone the way of polio and measles. But when I was eight years old back in the 1980’s, there was no vaccine. I caught the chicken pox from a girl in my 3rd grade class. I remember my mom giving me baking soda baths to help with the itching, laying on the couch in my pajamas watching endless hours of tv, and lots of tomato soup.
Granted, it was condensed tomato soup from a can. This was back in the day when my taste preferences leaned towards Chef Boyardee ravioli or cheese and butter sandwiches made from Kraft singles. A refined palette I did not possess. These were my comfort foods.
However, I tried condensed tomato soup from a can as an adult recently and it just didn’t have the same appeal as I remember. It was bland. Too salty. And watery. There had to be a better bowl of tomato soup out there.
Adding Layers of Flavor
As a grown up, canned tomato soup tastes like pureed tomatoes and salt. There was no complexity or depth of flavor. That’s easily remedied by tossing in a few herbs and vegetables. I started by melting two tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat. Once the butter was melted, I added one medium diced onion. Sauté the onion for two minutes. Then add one clove of minced garlic and sauté for one minute more.
The best type of white wine for cooking
I love adding a bit of wine to my soup stocks. Dry white wine with a high acidity, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris, will provide the best flavor. But since we’re only using ¾ of a cup, you might want to choose a wine that you wouldn’t mind drinking the rest of later. Just stay away from sweet wines like Moscato or Reisling. If you aren’t a wine drinker, you can totally leave it out. Just compensate by adding an additional ¾ cup of vegetable or chicken stock.
Add the wine to the softened onions and garlic. Bring to a boil and cook for about four minutes to allow the alcohol in the wine to burn off. Then reduce your temperature to low.
How to Make Cream of Tomato Soup
Next we are going to stir in three tablespoons of all-purpose flour and ¼ teaspoon of ground mustard. This is not the same as yellow mustard from a bottle. That has vinegar added to it and will very much affect the flavor of the soup. If you don’t have dry mustard on hand, skip this ingredient.
Cook the soup and ground mustard for two minutes, stirring constantly, to get rid of the raw taste of the flour. Gradually add 2 ½ cups of chicken or vegetable stock (more if you are not using wine). Keep stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Then add two (15-ounce cans) of crushed tomatoes. Diced tomatoes are fine too.
If you are lucky enough to have access to fresh thyme, I encourage you to toss 1/2 bunch into the pot. This is about ½ oz. tied together with kitchen twine. If not, add one teaspoon of dried thyme leaves. Next, add one 6-ounce jar of tomato paste and two teaspoons sugar of sugar. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
How to Achieve that Velvety Texture
When it comes to something like Tomato Basil Soup, I like the texture left a bit chunky. However, for classic cream of tomato soup, I want the texture to be as smooth as velvet.
First, if you used a fresh thyme bundle, fish that out and discard it. Next, puree the soup, either using a traditional blender or a handheld immersion blender. We’re not stopping there, tough. One more step.
If you have a fine mesh colander, strain the soup through that. I have one I got from the dollar store that I used for YEARS. Use the back of a wooden spoon to push as much as you can through, then discard anything that’s left.
Bonus points if you have something called a food mill! It works as both a strainer and a masher/saucer. You force food through a perforated disk by turning a handle and it separates the seeds, core and skin. It’s very useful for making applesauce, mashed potatoes with no lumps, or tomato sauce. It’s awesome for making tomato soup.
Once you’ve strained all the solids from the soup, return it back to the pot. Add one cup of whole milk or heavy cream, then heat through on low. Season with salt and pepper to your preference. I like to serve mine with a toasty grilled cheese sandwich.
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Cream of Tomato Soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon dry ground mustard
- 2 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2 cans (15 oz. each) crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1/2 bunch fresh thyme or one teaspoon dried
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat butter and oil together in a large stockpot over medium high heat.
- Once butter has melted, add onions. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1-3 additional minutes until the onion is softened.
- Add the wine and cook approximately 4-6 minutes. Decrease heat to low.
- Stir in flour and dry mustard. Cook two minutes to get rid of the raw taste of the flour.
- Gradually add chicken stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
- Add tomatoes, thyme, tomato paste, and sugar.
- Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat a simmer, cover and simmer for for 15 minutes.
- Place a fine mesh colander over a large mixing bowl. Strain the soup through the colander into the bowl, scraping the bottom of the colander with a large spoon. Discard solids left in the colander. Return soup to the pot.
- Add cream and heat through.
- Season with salt and pepper to preference. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves if desired.