Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup


Not only way better than canned, but one of the best (and fastest) soups you can make.
TIME 35 to 40 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 carrot, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
2 pounds tomatoes, cored and chopped, or one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, including the juice
2 to 3 cups water or tomato juice
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional


Method
1 Put the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and carrot, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, lower the heat a bit, and continue to cook, stirring to coat the vegetables with the paste, until the paste begins to darken (don’t let it burn), 1 to 2 minutes.

2 Strip the thyme leaves from the stem and add them to the pot along with the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 10 to 15 minutes. Add 2 cups of the water and bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently. Let the soup cook until the flavors meld, 5 more minutes.

3 Taste and adjust the seasoning; if the soup tastes flat (but salty enough), stir in the sugar. If the soup is too thick, add more water, ¼ cup at a time. If it’s too thin, continue to cook until it thickens and reduces slightly (this will also intensify the flavors). Garnish with the basil if you’re using it and serve.

Variations
  • Cream of Tomato Soup: Before tasting in Step 3, stir in up to 1 cup cream and cook the soup long enough to heat it up, but don’t let it boil.
  • Hearty Tomato Soup: Add ½ cup white rice, bulgur, or couscous with the water in Step 2, along with 1 more cup liquid. Cook until the grain is tender, 5 to 15 minutes, and be prepared to add a little more water if the soup gets too thick.
  • Spiced Tomato Soup: Instead of the fresh thyme and basil, try adding 1 tablespoon curry or chili powder or 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentón) along with the tomato paste in Step 1.

Tips
  • There’s no need to peel the tomatoes; in fact, tomato skins intensify the flavor of the soup. If you don’t want big pieces of skin in your bowl, cut the tomatoes into small pieces.
  • Tomato paste comes in cans and tubes: Grab a tube when you see it; use what you need and keep the rest handy in the fridge.

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