I recently learned that Carl did not grow up eating tomato soup from a can with a side of grilled cheese. I can’t believe I didn’t learn this sooner. Not that it would have been a total deal breaker but, combined with his hatred of tuna melts and strange affinity for exercise, it might have given me second thoughts.
Those cans of tomato soup are one of my favourite childhood memories, and, in our early years of marriage, I polished off more than a can or three as after-work suppers while my new husband was out playing volleyball. Then I started to learn more about what makes food stay in a perfect can shape even when you dump it out. Then I read the sodium and sugar information. Dang it if that didn’t ruin it all for me.
As a result, I haven’t had plain tomato soup in about 5 years, except for the two times I happened to be at Tim Hortons and they had Tomato Parmesan soup on the menu. I don’t know what’s in that stuff, but it tastes like magic and if anyone shows me a label that ruins it for me I am unfriending them for reals.
You wouldn’t think it would have taken me this long to make homemade tomato soup, given my fondness for it, but it has. This is largely because I don’t actually like tomatoes by themselves, and I assumed any homemade version would be like biting into a big ol’ plain tomato or, if that taste was masked, like eating a giant bowl of ketchup.
I was SO. VERY. WRONG.
Carl thought it was like eating a bowl of pasta sauce…which it kind of is. Really good, fresh pasta sauce packed with tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, some of the very best things in life. It actually would be fantastic with some stuffed tortellini added to the soup in the last half hour, and if you add enough it could be considered a pasta dish.
In my attempt to make dinner earlier in the day and have a calmer dinner hour and more zen-like personality (anyone noticed?), I’m trying to learn to love my slow cooker. Soup, I’ve discovered, is my favourite way to use the slow cooker so far, because soup tastes better when it cooks longer. Slow cooker recipes that require me to make a pan dirty browning things first make me raise a highly critical eyebrow and convince me to just make regular dinner. This recipe is 100% a chuck-it-in-and-leave-it recipe, until about 40 minutes before you want to eat, when you need to add a quick roux to help thicken it and the Parmesan to make things amazing. Then just leave it alone for another half hour and voila, serious tomato soup.
My kids weren’t fans because it wasn’t chicken noodle, so BOO automatically, but I learned that leftovers freeze very well: just thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat when needed for even more childhood comfort food happy feelings. If you love tomato soup even a little, you’re gonna love this. Some kind of carb to serve it with is mandatory too :)
- 28-oz / 825 mL can diced tomatoes (I used one with herbs and spices, but plain are also fine)
- 10 oz / 300 mL tomato sauce
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced (or 1 tsp dried garlic powder)
- 1 Tablespoon salt (or less, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 small onion, diced
- ½ cup 2% or whole milk
- ½ cup low fat sour cream
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup cream or milk (I used 2%)
- Combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, onion, milk, sour cream and broth (soooo, everything but the Parmesan cheese :) ) in the slow cooker. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours on high or 4-8 hours on low.
- About 40 minutes before serving, blend soup with an immersion blender or transfer to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Return to slow cooker.
- Make the roux by melting butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk the flour into the melted butter until clumpy. Pour in the cream or milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Let come to a gentle simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. Add to puréed soup, along with the Parmesan cheese, and let cook on high for another 20-30 minutes.
- Stir soup thoroughly and serve, garnishing with additional Parmesan and basil if desired.
Adapted from Let’s Dish Recipes and Creme de la Crumb.