weeknight tomato soup – smitten kitchen

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While this is not the Smitten Kitchen’s only tomato soup — there’s one with roasted summer tomatoes capped with an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich in the archives, and further back, a classic cream of tomato soup adapted from Cook’s Illustrated — neither are this: a seasonless tomato soup I can make on any rainy day, along with the nonnegotaible grilled cheese sandwiches, in under an hour. Both of the archived recipes have their charms; the first is great when tomatoes are at their peak. The second is excellent but fussy, more ideal for when you’ve got the time or patience to show off. But this has eclipsed both in the rotation for the last couple winters, and a few things make it perfect for us:

Yes, grocery store tomatoes: If you, like me, buy cherry or grape tomatoes far more often than you use them up, this soup is for you. No, I don’t mean glorious, peak-season cherry tomatoes from a garden or farm stand on a hot summer day; save those for snacking or a salad. I truly mean even the highly mediocre ones you might find on sale at a chain store in the dead of winter. This soup makes the argument that even bland, off-season cherry and grape tomatoes will provide more flavor and nuance than canned tomatoes and the proof will be in the bowl. And sweetness! Cream of tomato soup recipes add a little sugar, but I find that storebought grape tomatoes provide enough without it.

A simple base: Everything else is about simply layering in flavor — onions cooked in butter until sweet and lightly browned at the edges, garlic, pepper flakes to taste, a splash of sherry if that’s your thing, tomato paste, and any kind of broth you want to use, vegetable or chicken. It simmers for 15 minutes (this is when you make the grilled cheese sandwiches) and blends smooth.

Cream-optional: This was intended to be a cream of tomato soup, and you can, if you’d like, add cream at the end to taste. But the texture is so velvety and smooth from the tomato and sweet onions, you might find you don’t need or want it at all.

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Riffable: This isn’t just my new weeknight tomato soup, it’s a foundation I’ve used for a lot of tweaked leftovers. Sometimes, I’ll add cooked lentils (Trader Joe’s remain my fridge staple), but even some tortellini, and a handful of spinach wilted in, plus a little parmesan on top work nicely too. And it works as well with the French onion soup-style grilled cheese on top as the roasted tomato soup does.

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Podcast! My new podcast with J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, The Recipe with Kenji and Deb, launched this past week and our first episode is all about Stovetop Mac-and-Cheese! You can listen to it anywhere you get your podcasts and I’ve set up a new podcast tab/page where you can keep up on it here, too. We will have new episodes every two Mondays and this tomato soup will feature prominently in Episode 4! We’ve been working on this behind the scenes for the last year — I hope you enjoy listening along.




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