Dispel the chill with homemade tomato soup

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

I’m not a fan of winter. To me, winter wonderland sounds more like a curse than a romantic song. When the temperature is in the teens, I am not outside in any meadow building a snowman.

The only possible redeeming factor of the season is an excuse to make soup. I make at least one pot a week and eat it for breakfast (the thought of cereal chills my bones), lunch and dinner. The flavor only improves as the week moves on.

Of the many types of winter comfort foods, tomato soup is at the top of the list. Paired with a grilled cheese sandwich, it shouts out warmth and coziness. With just a few simple ingredients, it can be made in less than an hour.

Ideally, fresh tomatoes are the best choice for making tomato soup, but this being the dead of winter, canned tomatoes are a better choice than what passes for a tomato in the stores. When buying canned tomatoes, it’s important to read the labels.

Citric acid (think lemon juice) is added to all canned tomatoes as a preservative. This is why your grandmother added a teaspoon of sugar to her spaghetti sauce to doctor it up. Some brands also add calcium chloride as a firming agent. Though you can’t escape the citric acid unless you can your own, I prefer my tomatoes as naturally tasting as possible and try to avoid the calcium chloride.

The recipe below uses a carrot in place of sugar to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes. A little cream added at the end rounds out the flavors. Add grilled cheese, and you are all set to endure another week of arctic temperatures.

The recipe also can be doubled or tripled.

Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons salt or to taste

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes in their juices

2 cups stock or water

1/2 cup heavy cream

Place a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter melts, add the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour and stir to mix.

Increase the heat to medium and add the tomatoes and their juices. Roughly crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the stock or water and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the soup from the heat and cool slightly. Purée the soup using either an immersion blender or counter top blender.

Return the soup to the burner over low heat and stir in the cream. Taste for salt.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.