Tomato Herb Soup

I had eight plum tomatoes that weren’t getting any younger and a new basil plant that was just finding its footing. Soup seemed like the thing to do, but I wasn’t up for the the standard, heavy-cream laden tomato-basil recipe and my basil plant was willing to give up no more than 10 leaves. Then I recalled a tomato soup recipe that a friend in Chicago had given me about 25 years ago. Hand scribbled on a piece of notebook paper, it took tomato soup up several notches with a mix of many other vegetables and flavors — while remaining clearly in the tomato soup camp. Since food is about the only thing that my memory is good for lately, I decided to take a stab at recreating a tomato soup that included a fair amount of zucchini and minimal cream.  The result was well worth the risk, which says little for my memory and a lot for the fact that it might be impossible for any combination of tomatoes, zucchini, onions, garlic, carrots, celery and fresh herbs — sauteed in olive oil and blended into a soup with some stock — to be anything other than delicious.

Ingredients

  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2  cup of fresh parsley chopped
  • 10 (or more) basil leaves
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup half and half (optional)

Directions

  • Rinse tomatoes and add to a pan with 1 inch of rapidly boiling water. Cover and allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and keep covered for 5 minutes. Gently remove tomatoes from the pan with tongs and allow to cool on a plate.  The skin will fall right off of the tomatoes when  it’s time to add them to the soup.
  • While tomatoes are steaming and cooling, heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a large soup pan or stock pot and add chopped tomatoes, followed by garlic, celery, carrots and zucchini. Cover and cook at medium to high heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
  • Remove skin from steamed tomatoes, cut off the tops and add to the sautéed vegetables, along with canned tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper and vegetable stock.
  • Allow to cool slightly and add soup in batches to a food processor or blender. Pulse until almost completely pureed, allowing small chunks to remain for some texture.
  • Return pureed batches to another pan. Reheat and add half and half if desired.

Serve warm.