3 December, 2015
Easy Spicy Cream of Tomato Soup
“What are you making?” my friend Duane asked on the other end of the phone. “A spicy cream of tomato soup,” I answered. His response, “Open can of (insert big name brand) tomato soup, pour in pan. Open can of skim milk, dump in pan. Add pepper. Ta da.” I groaned…loudly. “No. Just yuck. That sounds terrible. Why on earth would anyone do that?” I swear I could hear him shrug through the phone. It took about ten minutes for me to stop gagging inside. Ok, I might be exaggerating… but only slightly. It may also have had something to do with flashbacks to my childhood and my memory of my mother serving me almost exactly what my friend Duane described and I detested it.
Let’s be honest, we have all used canned soups from time to time. Maybe we were raised on them. Maybe we were poor and/or in college. They certainly are better than nothing, but when you have the option to actually make it using mostly scratch ingredients (admittedly using canned tomatoes) gives a flavor that is really hard to beat.
After years of refusing to have much to do with tomato soup whether cream or not, I finally caved and tried again. It may have been out of a carton, now that I think about it, but either way, I decided it was pretty tasty after all these years. Later, I would add crushed red pepper flakes and heat it up in a sauce pan on the stove. Yes, I have a microwave. No I don’t use it much, especially on soup. It always seems like the microwave affects the flavor of the soup (I know it sounds weird, but that’s my perception and no it isn’t scientific. just my feeling. Even canned soup tastes different to me). Ok, I have issues (Kim, my girlfriend, tells me I have lots of them…I’m never really sure how to take that.)
After repeating the carton routine a dozen times or so, I got to thinking about making it from scratch. And I tried that a couple of times, but it always seemed like the flavor was lacking. I haven’t figured it out yet. Is it the lousy store bought tomatoes? I’m not sure but it’s the only theory I have.
After trying several recipes, I hadn’t found any that I was quite satisfied with. So, that led to me finally conjuring my own as a sort of merging of two or three different ones, then adjusting the portions, and then adding a couple more ingredients after deleting others. The result is this beautiful (to me) blend of tomato-y, garlicky, spicy delightfulness that is so welcome on cold fall and winter days. Grill up a cheese sandwich, and call it lunch or even a light dinner. Enjoy!
Yield:5 to 6 servings
- 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 ½ cups Chopped Red Onion (About 3/4 of 1 large onion)
- 1 tablespoon Minced Garlic (3 cloves, 2 if large)
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder ( I like a lot of garlic)
- 28 ounces of Diced Tomatoes (I like to use fire roasted)
- 4 cups Chicken Stock, preferably homemade
- 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 2 teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- ½ teaspoon Hot Smoked Paprika
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or pan (I use a 6 qt fry pan sometimes) over medium heat.
- Add the onions and sauté for about 8 minutes, until tender.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and paprika and stir well.
- Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
- Add the cream to the soup and use a submersion blender to blend the soup. Some people may choose to strain the pulp out of the soup at this point, I don’t as I like the pulp and all the little flavor bits. I also like to let the soup simmer about another hour.