Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kay's Tomato Basil Soup

Here is my first guest blog for your enjoyment. Hope you enjoy my Mother's post!

Home Canned Tomato Soup

Back in the good old days when Robin and her brother were little and we lived in Grass Valley, we used to go up I 80 to Emmigrant Gap in the winter and play in the snow. After getting cold, wet and worn out we would trek on up to the Rainbow Lodge for some steaming soup. I think the best I ever had there was their Tomato Basil. Normally I’m not a fan of pureed soups but this one was spectacular. Since I have an overabundance of tomatoes this year (after 2 years of limited success) and I have already canned all of the salsa and chili base I can use, I was looking for something else to make. I’m not much of a pasta eater so ruled out the marinara sauce and decided to try some homemade tomato soup. My first batch was to “tomato-y” since I made it pretty much like I canned my chili and soup base with tomatoes, celery, peppers and onions. The next batch I really liked so here is my experiment.

1) Peel a bunch of tomatoes and cut them into pieces into a regular strainer so the juice will go into a bowl (fresh tomato juice is one of the delightful byproducts of the soup).
You will need 15 cups of tomato pulp to make 8 pints of soup. Depending on the type of tomatoes you use, this should give you over 2 quarts of pure tomato juice for your enjoyment.

2)Dump the tomato pulp into a large pan (dutch oven works great) and add 1 medium onion cut into chunks, one large head of garlic, 15 small peeled carrots (the kind you get in a bag) and either a cup of fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dried basil leaves (I used the dry because I stripped my basil for my first try).

A note on the garlic…..since the French use lots of garlic and don’t peel it, I didn’t peel mine either…just popped them into cloves and cut off the root end. They don’t even need to be cut up (neither do the carrots) because you are going to liquefy them in the blender.

3)Boil everything together until the carrots are soft (about 45 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool a bit and then liquefy it all in the blender in batches.

4)Now comes the fun part. The conical looking steel contraption you see in the picture is an old fashioned food strainer. It is great for juicing or making fruit butters. You just sit the strainer in a large pan, pour the liquefied mass into it and run the wooden masher around and around until all you have left is the dried pulp which you throw on the compost pile. I got mine 6 or 7 years ago at Emigh Hardware.

5)When you have the thick liquid all strained, bring it back to a boil, put into jars and water bath for 10 minutes for pints (15 if you make lots in quarts). This is also a good time to taste and add any additional spices you might like. I don’t add salt to my cooking as I have gotten used to using herbs for flavoring and prefer it.

6)To serve just add some cream or milk to taste and heat. Goes absolutely great with a toasted cheese sandwich.

After you have cleaned up, sit back and enjoy a big glass of fresh tomato juice (additional ingredients are up to you) and think about how good that Tomato Basil soup is going to taste on a cold rainy day this winter, and how good you feel knowing that you can pronounce every ingredient in it.

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