Tomato Soup

In the ongoing struggle to preserve as much of the season’s bounty as possible (besides what I sell at the two markets I attend), I decided to make a new recipe: Putting Food By‘s Country Tomato Soup.

Washing the tomatoes

Washing the tomatoes

I’ve made and pressured-canned plenty of tomato-vegetable soups, but I hadn’t tried to do an entirely smooth one like this recipe.

It’s really delicious!  The downside is that now that I know how good it is, I’ll probably have to can another batch later on this week or next.  I’m getting a little weary of canning, to be honest.  And I’m almost completely out of jars–even after buying a couple more cases last week.  I’ve just got a few half-pints left that are waiting for the grape jelly project.

But, really–it’s awesome.  It’s so good, I was really upset that after the first batch, there was just exactly enough to fill three more quarts with none left over in the pot–except that little bit I sopped out with hunks of salted baguette.  And then H went at what I had left in the pot.  Yeah, it’s really good.

I did tweak the recipe a bit, though, based on a few other recipes I looked at online.  One thing I did NOT do was try to thicken it with flour and butter, as some recipes call for.  In my reading, that’s not a safe bet for home (even pressure) canning. Cornstarch worked just fine.

Instead of just the onion and green pepper called for in the PFB recipe, I added a couple cloves of garlic, a few big sprigs of basil, and a big bunch of celeriac leaves and stems (having that in my garden and not celery). The celery flavor really makes it.

All the veggies besides tomatoes were chopped and simmered with a little water in a covered pot until tender, then run through the Villaware strainer with the raw, red-ripe tomatoes (this did cause the strainer to jam up a bit, but it mostly came through in the end).

Then, I simmered the whole thing down a bit more–though it was fairly thick to start with because the tomatoes were almost all paste/sauce/canning types: San Marzanos, Principe Borgheses and Polish Linguisas.

For the record–a “canning” tomato is NOT a bruised, split, or damaged tomato (some farmstands sell their less-than perfect tomatoes as “canners”–a good way to get rid of what might better be compost).  A canning or sauce tomato is one that looks like these:

Paste tomatoes

Paste tomatoes

See how “meaty” they are?  That means they cook down in a lot less time than the so-called “canners” that are just slicing tomatoes that aren’t up to snuff.

This isn’t to say I’ve never used a cracked tomato in a sauce–but since I pick those tomatoes myself, I can inspect them and know if they’re worthy–and know that a recently cracked-but-not-moldy tomato needs to be processed right away or it is compost. Period.

But back to the soup:  the PFB recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons salt (optional), and 8 tablespoons of cornstarch (among a few other things) for a 4 1/2 quart batch.  I used 1 1/4 cups sugar, 12 tablespoons cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons salt for a 10 quart batch, and both H and I have pronounced it well-balanced in flavor.

To have doubled the quantity of sugar would’ve made it much too sweet, and I have learned over my years of canning to automatically cut the sugar by at least a third on any recipe.  The sugar is not acting as a preservative, so it’s really just as matter of taste, as is the salt.

Lastly, because I added celery to the recipe (which was not originally included), I processed for thirty-five minutes instead of thirty at the 10lbs. pressure recommended.

Yup.  I’m going to have to make more.

Country Tomato Soup, 2009

Country Tomato Soup, 2009


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