My church holds Vespers services on Wednesday evenings during Lent and Advent, and those services are traditionally preceded by a simple communal meal of soup, salad, and bread. Yesterday morning, I was part of a group that gathered at the church to make the soups for those meals.
For the sake of convenience, we make all the soups in advance and freeze them until the night of the service. We have a full commercial kitchen, so it's easy for a bunch of people to work on several different types of soup simultaneously, and only having to thaw and reheat the soup on the day of the service saves a lot of time.
My job for the day was to make the cream of tomato soup. A few weeks earlier, I'd been talking with Barb, the woman in charge of the soup-making -- the Obersuppenführer, if you will -- and had mentioned a very tasty tomato soup I'd had recently that, unlike traditional tomato soups, contained chunks of tomatoes. She remembered I'd suggested we try that with the tomato soup we would be making, so she gave me the recipe and told me to have at it. Here's the recipe we followed:
Clinton Kelly's Cream of Tomato Soup
- 2 28-ounce cans San Marzano Tomatoes (whole and peeled)
- 1 large White Onion (sliced thinly)
- 8 Garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 3 cups Chicken Stock
- 4 sprigs fresh Thyme (leaves picked)
- 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 cup picked Basil Leaves (thinly sliced)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice. Cut the tomatoes in half. Toss in a medium size bowl with onions and garlic and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast until onions turn brown, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent burning.
- Transfer the tomato mixture to a large heavy bottomed pot. Add the reserved tomato juice, stock and fresh thyme leaves. Let simmer for about 15 minutes. Blend until smooth, taking care not to splatter the hot soup. Add heavy cream and return to a simmer, but do not boil. Adjust the seasoning.
- Pour into bowls and top with thin strips of fresh basil.
Needless to say, we skipped the last step, since we don't plan to serve it until next month. We also skipped adding the heavy cream; we'll do that step when it's thawed and reheated. Other than that, we followed the recipe exactly as you see it above, times three. In other words, I didn't reserve any of the roasted vegetables to add back to the soup after the rest were blended. I decided that since we were using whole tomatoes and sliced onions instead of diced or chopped , it would be difficult to reserve some of the vegetables without doing extra chopping after the fact, which I didn't feel like doing. So I'll have to try it myself at home one of these days.