This is one of my all-time favorite soups. I like this soup better than most soups I have ever gotten in a restaurant. I can eat this by itself for lunch, and with a salad or a sandwich for dinner.
However, it is not exactly a quick recipe. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half start to finish, but you can make parts of it in advance in order to get it done on a weeknight in under an hour. Or you can just make it on the weekend and reheat it, because this soup is great as a leftover.
This is based off of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but I have changed the method around. For one thing, I use a food mill instead of a blender. If you, unlike me, are not picky about tomato seeds and skins in your soup that just get blended up anyway, the blender is the way to go. Sadly, I am that picky and so I use the food mill.
You need two cans of whole tomatoes packed in juice. I use Muir Glen organic, but as long they are in juice and not puree, you are good. You need to roast the tomatoes and save the juice for later. If you are going to blend it, you don’t need to bother with this step, but again, I am picky, so I strain the juice by pouring it through the food mill, which has a sieve at the bottom.
You put the tomatoes on the baking sheet. I don’t bother with the aluminum foil, because it always ends up a mess no matter how you do it. I do spray the sheet with cooking spray so the tomatoes come off easier.
Then you sprinkle brown sugar on them.
You roast the tomatoes for 30 minutes, and then set them aside to cool. To make things go quicker, I usually start the next part about 15 minutes before the tomatoes are done. You sauté butter, shallots, tomato paste and a pinch of allspice until the shallots are soft. The whole soupmaking process here smells terrific, but the smell of just these four ingredients sautéeing is probably one of my all-time favorites.
Then you add in the flour, stock (I use Imagine’s No-Chicken Broth usually, but plain vegetable stock would work, too), the tomato juice, and the roasted tomatoes.
After letting the ingredients mingle, it is time to food mill! You take the bowl that was holding your juice, put it back under the food mill, and use a big ladle to scoop the soup into the mill. When it gets to the bottom, you can just pour the rest of the soup in. Then rinse out the pot you were making the soup in so no seeds or skins can work their way in. Yes, I am a little paranoid.
You crank the handle until all of the soup is pushed through the sieve, leaving the undesirables behind.
Remember to scrap the bottom of the food mill! Yummy pulp likes to hang out there.
From here, there is not much more to do. You add the cream, rewarm the soup over a low heat, add the salt, and then stir in two tablespoons of sherry off-heat before serving. Then you prepare yourself for deliciousness.
Cream of Tomato Soup with Rice
adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe
Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, minced (or one small onion, but the shallots really are better)
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I use the kind that comes in a tube, so I don’t have to open a whole can)
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups No-Chicken or vegetable stock, or chicken stock if you are on the food chain
1/2 cup heavy cream (I sometimes substitute half-and-half, but I think the soup might turn out more acidic that way, so if you are sensitive to that kind of thing, you might want to stick with cream)
2 tablespoons sherry
1 tsp salt
1 cup cooked rice
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with spray oil. Spread tomatoes in a single layer and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. While tomatoes bake, prepare your rice. Remove tomatoes from oven and let them cool.
2. Heat butter over medium heat in medium nonreactive saucepan until foaming; add shallots, tomato paste, and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Whisking constantly, gradually add the stock. Stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.
3. Ladle soup into a food mill over a medium-sized bowl and process. Scrape the bottom of the food mill for extra pulp. Rinse out the soup pan. [Or, if using a blender, strain mixture into medium bowl; rinse out saucepan. Transfer tomatoes and solids in strainer to blender; add 1 cup strained liquid and puree until smooth. Add remaining reserved liquid.]
4. Return the pureed mixture to the saucepan, add cream and cooked rice, and heat over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in sherry, add salt, and serve immediately.
To Make Ahead
I usually roast the tomatoes and make the rice ahead of time, if I want to make this on a weeknight. Then I just keep them in the refrigerator until needed to add to the soup.
CI also says this soup can be prepared through step 3, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Reheat over low heat before proceeding with step 4.