From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tomato soup

I continue to ride the range during this frigid weather.

Today I dug out all 4 1-gallon bags of frozen tomatoes from last year's garden.

While 3 of them were 100% San Marzano tomatoes, the 4th bag was at least half salad slicers.

First thing - defrost.  I put the bags (one at a time) into the microwave for about 10 minutes, then poured the nearly defrosted pieces into a sieve over a 12-quart pot.

While that bag drained, I defrosted the others and drained them in turn.

After they drained off all the clear tomato 'whey', I put the solids into an 8-quart pot and put them on low heat to totally defrost.

Once warmed through I sucked off (turkey baster) another couple of cups of whey.  Then I took the near-hot solids and mashed them through a strainer.  It took very little time since the tomatoes were very soft.

In the end I collected just over 2C of solids: seeds & skins.  That left me with 5 quarts of whey and 2.5 quarts of light sauce just perfect for soup.

I used my new wand blender and made sure the soup was velvet smooth, then added my flavoring ingredients:

marjoram; salt; garlic granules; onion powder; chipotle powder; cracked black pepper and 1T of EVOO.  After a simmer and a taste I also added a rounded tablespoon of tomato paste. (I refused to add sugar so the paste helped take off residual sharpness from the fresh tomatoes.)

Voila!  Soup!  Mom is so looking forward to this as I didn't make any last winter because I was ill.  She says mine is much better than Campbell's.

Well, lets just see why.  Here's what Campbell's condensed tomato soup is made of:

Tomato Puree , (Water , Tomato Paste) , High Fructose Corn Syrup , Wheat Flour , Water , Salt , Potassium Chloride , Flavoring , Citric Acid , Lower Sodium Natural Sea Salt , Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Monopotassium Phosphate

What a chemical cocktail that is!  ICK  Better off to just boil the label and have that for lunch. :-/

This soup is better than the last one I made.  I think it's because I switched to San Marzanos for paste tomatoes.  They are much better cooked up than Romas to my mind.

This batch took me about 3 hours start to finish (1hr to thaw, 1 hr to heat/strain/season, 1 hr to clean up the mess *heh*).  It will make 10 1-C servings.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to freeze more than 4 bags next year.  If I'm going to go through all the work, I should get a bigger payoff, no?

Well now, I'll let the soup sit overnight in the breezeway (honestly, it's only 29 degrees in there so I use it for cooling foods this time of year).  That'll give the herbs and spices time to blend.

All I'll have to do then is warm up a bowl and wrangle up a grilled cheese sandwich on the side.  Doesn't get much better than that!  How about you?  Are you a tomato soup fan?

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  1. I love tomato soup! Unfortunately, DH does not. I use canned tomatoes and I don't drain off the whey. Did you put that back in the soup?

    1. Canned tomatoes do not have whey as they have already been flash heated. In summer I'd pour the 5 quarts of watery whey onto the compost pile. In winter I just dispose of it. Those 5 quarts of liquid would have been had to be cooked off the tomato mush for me to get the tomatoes down to sauce thickness. Removing that bitter clear liquid right off the bat saves me tons of hours of cooking tomatoes to evaporate it off. And, by not overcooking the sauce, the flavor is so much brighter.

    2. P.S. I learned this from Mike McGrath - editor of Organic Gardening magazine in the early 1990s. He used to have to simmer his sauce for 24 hours or so to get it concentrated. When he discovered this 'whey' process, he published about it. I've done it that way ever since.