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Creamy Tomato Soup

Creamy Tomato Soup

This creamy tomato soup is flavorful and satisfying without being heavy or overly rich.  The trick is to use milk instead of cream and to thicken it with a simple roux.  This produces a wonderful creamy texture without actually using cream.  It also increases the soup’s yield without sacrificing quality or flavor.  Roux (pronounced roo) sounds fancy but it’s actually really easy and a valuable tool for thickening all sorts of soups, stews and sauces.  Roux is just flour cooked with fat, most commonly butter or oil.  Butter is my fat of choice because I always have butter on hand and it tastes fantastic.  A pale roux (such as the one used in this recipe) can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes.  Just melt the butter over medium heat, add flour and stir until it’s smooth and begins to smell nice.  That’s it!

Two helpful rules concerning roux are 1. Use equal parts flour and fat (some people recommend slightly more flour but I like the consistency of the 1:1 ratio and it’s also really easy to remember! And 2. One Tablespoon of flour will thicken roughly 8 ounces (1 cup) of liquid.  However, the longer you cook a roux (such as the deep brown roux Marshall makes for gumbo), the less thickening power it has.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 cups milk
  • Salt

Directions:

  • Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat (an enameled Dutch oven is ideal but any stock pot will work)
  • Once melted add the flour and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes at which point it should be a smooth, paste-like consistency and begin to smell nice and toasty
  • Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking, stirring regularly for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and milk and increase the heat to medium high.  Stir regularly until it comes to a simmer then reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt and cook gently for another 10-15 minutes to further develop the flavor.  Stir regularly so the bottom doesn’t burn and to prevent a skin from forming on top.
  • Puree the soup until totally smooth using a regular blender or an immersion blender if you have one.
  • Taste for seasoning – add more salt if desired (a couple grinds of pepper and/or fresh basil wouldn’t hurt either!).  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • Substitutions: This soup can also be made with about 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes (roughly chopped).  Roma tomatoes or a similar paste variety are the best because they’re low in moisture and make a flavorful soup.  However, you can use whatever kind you like.  If you’re using a different type, I’d recommend simmering it a little longer which will condense the flavor by evaporating some of the excess water.  If the skin bothers you, you may want to peel fresh tomatoes first (ugg!) or consider straining the soup once it’s been cooked (see the next note).
  • To strain or not to strain: Many recipes recommend straining your soup through a fine mesh strainer after it’s been pureed.  I’ve tried this and I personally don’t think this is necessary.  If I were a chef serving this soup in a restaurant then okay.  But I’m a mom who considers it an accomplishment that I just made a pot of homemade soup and the slight improvement in texture is just not worth the extra effort.  The soup is gonna rock either way so give it a taste and as always – it’s your call!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/halfchinese/235052637/

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