Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! Growing tomatoes is often the gateway into gardening to produce one’s own food. Why? They’re one of the easiest plants to grow from seed, they can be grown in a pot on the back porch, and they tend to give you a ton of fruit.
Many home gardeners end up with more tomatoes than they know what to do with. And many homesteaders – even after they’ve canned, fermented, and dehydrated as many tomatoes as humanly possible – are left with fresh, ripening tomatoes that they need to use or lose. And nothing is more maddening to a homesteader or gardener than wasting food they’ve grown themselves.
What’s a gardener or homesteader to do when they’ve preserved all of the tomatoes they can manage for the winter months? Put garden-fresh tomato soup on the menu, of course!
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Making a batch of fresh tomato soup is also a good way to use up any of the less-than-perfect tomatoes that you’ve grown. It happens. Unlike store-bought tomatoes that are selected for their looks, delicious garden-fresh tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes. Anything that’s not a perfect slicer is great for soup, as small blemishes can be simply cut away and discarded.
This recipe is also one of the quickest fresh meals you can prepare, making it ideal for even your busiest days. Here’s how to make garden-fresh tomato soup in 45 minutes or less.
- Fresh tomatoes (approximately 3 lbs. or enough to line a large, 4.8-quart baking dish)
- 1 small onion or 1/2 a medium to large onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 4 to 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons (T) of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon (t) of dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon (t) of oregano
- 2 cups of stock/broth (vegetable or chicken)
- Salt and pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Heavy cream
- Fresh basil
- Remove the tomato stems, then wash and cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on their size. The skins stay on.
- Dice the onion and pepper and peel the garlic (you can dice the garlic cloves or leave them whole)
- Place the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, dry herbs, salt and pepper in a roasting pan or baking dish (glass or metal is fine, but make sure it has the capacity to hold the ample amounts of liquid that will come out of the tomatoes) and drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast the tomatoes and veggies at 450 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until slightly charred. If you’re using a broiler-safe pan, you can even turn on the broiler for the final 4 minutes to give it some extra char.
- Bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a boil in a pot on the stove, then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Add the veggies to the stock. (Careful! It’s hot. I use a pair of tongs to lift the veggies out of the pan, and when the pan is left with only the juices, I then carefully pour what’s left into the pot.)
- Use a hand blender (immersion blender) to create a smooth soup consistency. Because the soup is hot, it’s extra important to keep the blade and the dome around the blade under the liquid so you don’t splash while blending.
- Dish up the soup, drizzle with heavy cream, and sprinkle on the cheese. Top with fresh basil, if desired.
The nice thing about recipes like this is that you can change many of the ingredients to suit your taste. Love garlic? You can add a couple more cloves. Want something spicier? Go ahead and throw in a jalapeno. Need to cut the acidity even more? You can add more than a drizzle of heavy cream at the end. Just don’t go overboard, you want it to still be tomato soup, not garlic soup or cream with tomatoes.
This recipe fills nice big soup bowls for 4 people, making just shy of 4 pints of soup total. Anything left can be refrigerated for a couple of days and reheated.
What is your favorite way to use garden-fresh tomatoes? Let me know in the comments section.