I keep thinking spring is just around the corner. That is, until we get hit with another blast of wintry weather. It was cold and rainy here all day yesterday, and that rain eventually turned into snow. I love soup, but I especially love it on cold, snowy nights. We originally planned on making grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with this, but I decided to make croutons instead. This was the perfect meal to warm us up, and it was fun to eat it while watching the snow fall.
This soup is unique in that it doesn’t use any cream (which I realize is obvious from the name). Cream can really drown out that wonderful tomato flavor, so why eat tomato soup if it doesn’t even taste like tomatoes? This soup gets so much flavor from just a few ingredients. I love it when recipes allow the ingredients to shine, and this soup definitely does that. Instead of cream to thicken the soup, sandwich bread is used. It helps tone down the acidity of the tomatoes and also gives the soup a velvety texture. This soup is a far cry from the canned, condensed variety. It’s rich, full of flavor and is incredibly easy to make. Paired with a salad or grilled cheese, or topped with croutons, it makes the perfect meal for wintry nights.
Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
In a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using) and bay leaf. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes and their juices. Mash tomatoes using a potato masher, until tomato pieces are all smaller than 2 inches. Add sugar and bread. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and beginning to disintegrate, about 5 minutes.
Remove bay leaf, add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Stir in broth and brandy (if using). Alternately, transfer half of soup to a blender and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Blend for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and 1 tablespoon of oil. Return soup to pot and stir in broth and brandy (if using). Season to taste with salt and pepper and return to a boil. Sprinkle chives over the top of each serving of soup and drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, September 2008
*I’m submitting this post to Branny’s Charity Souper Bowl. For each post she receives, she’s donating $1 to the ASPCA. Since all three of my precious animals are adopted, this is an event that has a special place in my heart. And since I think all my animals are adorable, here are a few pictures. :)
(Photos of Chloe and Rabb taken by my wonderful friend Holly.)