My Mom makes awesome soup. I think some of my strongest memories of my Mom’s cooking is of her soups. Not that she isn’t awesome at most other things, but she had some really good soup recipes.
Two in particular that stand out in my mind have their origins in the More with Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre.
The first was Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup, At the risk of sounding like a total hipster foodie, that’s right, my Mom was making Pho. In the 70s. (Well, sort of. It had spaghetti in it.)
The other was a Cream of Tomato soup. Now, for most people, this probably conjures up memories of Campbell’s soup. This is way better.
This soup conjures up a fond memory of my mother making this soup on the wood stove in the family room (the only other thing I can ever recall being made on that stove was popcorn, so this was a momentous occasion.). and then eating it out of french onion soup bowls (we never actually used them for french onion soup) while watching Mary Poppins on the Wonderful World of Disney.
Today it was raining around lunchtime and it just felt like a soup day, and the idea of tomato soup popped into my head. Unfortunately, I have misplaced my copy of the More With Less Cookbook, but I managed to find the recipe on the Needs More Butter Blog.
Over the years, both my Mom and I have made some changes to the original, so I am going to present the version of the soup that I made today:
- 2 tablespoons margarine (or butter)
- 2 tablespoons onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, or 4 tablespoons of chopped garlic scapes, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- dash of basil, oregano, thyme
- a 28 oz can of tomatoes
- 2 cups cold milk
- Melt the margarine or butter in a large saucepan.
- Saute the garlic or garlic scapes and onions in the hot oil until onions are translucent.
- Stir in your flour, sugar, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and thyme to make a roux. This is what gives your soup the creamy texture.
- Cook your flour and oil mixture, stirring constantly until it becomes bubbly and you can smell the flour browning just a little.
- Slowly stir in the can of tomatoes making sure to combine it with the flour mixture. I use whole tomatoes and break them roughly with my wooden spoon, but if you want smaller tomato chunks you could use diced tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let it boil for 1 minute.
- Next you need to add the milk. Now this is not as simple as it sounds. Your tomato mixture is hot and acidic. Milk does not like this. Heat and acid are two things that are used during cheesemaking to separate the curds and whey. If you just dump the cold milk in, it will curdle, and while this doesn’t taste bad, it is not visually appealing.To stop the milk from curdling, slowly ladle tablespoons of your hot tomato mixture into your milk. I usually measure the milk in a 4 cup liquid measuring cup, and slowly add about a cup of the tomato mixture a spoonful at a time into the milk.
- Stir your milk mixture into the tomato mixture, and heat until almost boiling.