The Enchanted Broccoli Forest: Cream of Tomato Soup
When I was little, my father’s go-to comfort meal was a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Early on, I learned how to open the cans, dump the congealed soup into a pot, fill up the empty can with milk, mix the two together over low, and serve with a wheat bread and sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwich. I don’t know the first meal I learned to cook was, but that might have been it.
I’ve moved beyond Campbell’s, thankfully, and tend to eat tomato soup only during the summer when fresh, local or garden-picked tomatoes are ripe. Even though it’s October, the last of my garden’s fruit is ripening on the windowsill and, the other night, more than enough were red and ready to be turned into soup.
This recipe comes from Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest…and Other Timeless Delicacies, a cookbook written (eek, before I was born–don’t judge me!) back in 1982. My mother gifted it to me the first year I was a vegan and, while few of the all-vegetarian recipes are vegan, many can be converted. A lover of picture-laden cookbooks, this one never spoke to me until recently, when I discovered recipes like Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup, Vegetable Strudel, Corn and Molasses Muffins, and Zucchini Julienne. It’s classic vegetarian cooking with a seasonal, whimsical twist. The illustrations alone are worth the purchase.
While three variations of Cream of Tomato Soup are in the book, I chose to go with the second one–a super simple recipe featuring celery seed and cloves as the main spicing. Strange, right? I’m not sure what area of the world those spices lean towards, but it’s a very different soup that I very much do like. While canned tomatoes would do in a pinch, the fresh, garden tomatoes really made the soup sing, and coconut milk, that darn soup perfecter really topped the dish off with richness. Feel free to use any other non-dairy milk of your choosing, though. (Oh, and that baking soda? Apparently it helps lessen the acidity of the tomatoes, making the soup easier on the palate. Whodda thunk?)
Happiest of MoFo weekends to everyone & I’ll see you back here Monday!
Cream of Tomato Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 c red onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt
fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 c cooked tomatoes*
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp agave
2 tbsp dry sherry
1/2-1 c coconut milk
*If using fresh tomatoes, chop about 3 or 4 cups worth (leave on the skins, seeds, but core them). Place in a saucepot and stew with 1/4 c water for 20 minutes over medium heat. They’ll get nice and saucy. At that point they’re ready to go. If using canned tomatoes, one 28 oz can chopped tomatoes would work just fine.
In a medium saucepot, cook the onions in olive oil over medium/medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Add the salt, pepper, celery seed, and cloves and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Sprinkle in the flour. Continue stiring and cook for 5-8 minutes more.
Add the tomatoes and baking soda. Cover and let simmer 30 minutes over low heat. Stir from the bottom from time to time as it simmers.
Add the agave and sherry, stir to combine. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Fish out the bay leaves so nobody chokes on them.
Transfer to a food processor or blender and add 1/2 c coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Add more coconut milk as desired. (Note: the original recipe does not call for blending the soup, so you can forgo this step if you want to–will be delicious either way! If you aren’t blending, just add the coconut milk to the soup and serve.)