A couple days ago I was preparing bread dough and thinking that it would be nice to make grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner with the finished bread. My next thought naturally went to tomato soup. I had a few cans of the ever so classic Campbell’s tomato soup in my cupboard. Dinner was planned. However, I then remembered that I have been toying with the idea of making tomato soup from scratch. I also remembered that I had recently bought a cart full (slight exaggeration) of good quality canned tomatoes. So then I was on a mission. I left the bread dough to rest and began to scour the internet for tomato soup recipes.
I found tons of interesting recipes but none were quite what I was looking for. Gourmet creamy tomato soups with puff pastries and recipes that included a long list of various vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers, and more. Also, recipes using strange or obviously overpowering herbs and spices were everywhere. The worst was one that used red food colouring to make the soup red because there were so many other veggies in it that it lost its redness. This just would not do! If a tomato soup is not red simply because of the tomatoes in it then something is horribly wrong! Some recipes looked delicious and some looked horrible but none were what I wanted. I wanted a simple tomato soup recipe that would result in a Campbell’s-like tomato soup, but… better, because it was homemade. Once a basic recipe was discovered it could then be built upon to make any fancy version one wishes. Add cream, add a pastry top, and add other flavourings as you desire, but the basic recipe MUST stand on its own. Also, as there are many recipes that call for canned tomato soup as an ingredient, I want to have the option to go the extra mile and make that ingredient from scratch from time to time. After my disappointing search I went back to the bread dough to finish kneading it and to think.
I ended up taking aspects of some of the recipes I found and added in a couple of my own ideas and developed a recipe. I set the dough aside for its first rise and got to work on my tomato soup experiment. I decided to take an approach similar to making tomato sauce and do a long simmer in order to develop a rich tomato flavour, so since the bread would take about 2 or 3 hours from this point I figured the timing should work out. So I did the first few steps in my little recipe and set it to simmer while the bread dough rose.
Fast forward to the moment of truth. The bread was finished and oh so spectacular, as always, and I was preparing the grilled cheese sandwiches. I had been tasting the soup as it cooked and I was pretty happy with it throughout the process, not wowed, but there’s no way of telling how it will actually taste when its all done, until, well until it’s done. So I gave it its final taste test, and WOW! It’s exactly what I was looking for. I did not expect the experiment to be so successful but I’m really really happy with it. It’s smooth and rich with deep tomato flavour, and it has that special Je ne sais quoi, that you crave when thinking about tomato soup. It takes a lot longer, but if you have time, it’s worth it for the flavour. My top food critic, my husband, had this to say, “Sure, I had to wait three hours for grilled cheese and tomato soup, but it was the best I ever had!” In the future I will cook it down to make condensed soup and use this as specified in recipes that call for canned soup. I will probably make big batches of it and freeze for convenience.
Just look at that spread of pure food delight. Three hours work well worth it. There is something so satisfying about freshly baked bread sitting on a rack to cool. I made two sandwich loafs and four giant hamburger buns…(big plans for those). I’ll post my bread recipes soon. The star of the show for now, however is the tomato soup. I will make it again soon and when I do I will document each step and post the recipe. Stay tuned! (my recipe for tomato soup here)