It's time to start thinking about planting tomatoes. I am sad that this year I will have to forgo this ritual since my husband and I are in middle of moving from our small Ohio farm to a subdivision in Florida (that's the military for ya!). Eventually, I'll make some raised beds in our new yard so that I can raise tomatoes there as well, but it won't happen in time for this summer. Fortunately, I have jars of tomato products in my pantry from last summer's monster tomato crop to tide me over.
Of all the tomato products I can, tomato soup is probably my favorite. It is so much better than what comes in a can at the store. I use my countertop roaster oven when preparing the tomatoes for this soup; it's almost like having a giant crock pot. You want to cook off a huge amount of the water, and I find cooking them down in the roaster oven provides less opportunity for scorching. Plus, the capacity is pretty darn good. If you aren't interested in canning this soup, I have also included directions for making it at home in a jiffy using store bought canned tomatoes.
Home Canned Tomato Soup
Yield: Variable, make as much or as little of this soup as you need/want. Specific instructions are given on a per pint jar basis.
Prepare the tomatoes: Wash and remove the green stems of the tomatoes you want to use. Fill stock pot or countertop roaster oven with halved or quartered tomatoes to help them cook down more quickly. Cook until thick and reduced by at least 1/3. It somewhat depends on how watery the tomatoes were to start, but remember that thicker is richer! In my countertop roaster, I used the 300 degree temperature setting. This cook down part takes a while, maybe as much as 6-10 hours, but you can turn it on and basically walk away. You could make it go much faster if you stood there stirring it the whole time, but I don't have the patience for that! Once it is nicely thickened, let it cool enough to handle without burning yourself. Process the sauce through a food mill with a tomato screen.
Fill the jars: Before getting too far along, be sure to get your water bath canner water ready. If you aren't sure about canning processes, get the low down on my Canning 101 page.
For each pint jar, add the following:
2 tsp cook type clear jel (a special type of corn starch specially made for canning)
1/2 tsp tomato soup seasoning (see below)
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS light corn syrup
Add a small amount of soup to the jar and mix thoroughly. Then fill up the jar leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Seal and process for 35 minutes.
To prepare the soup for eating, pour soup into a sauce pan with half a jar (1 cup) of milk (or water). Heat over medium-high heat until the soup starts to boil and turns bright red. Serve with shredded cheese and sprinkle with dried oregano.
Tomato Soup Seasoning Mix
2 TBS dried parsley
1 TBS dried oregano
2 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp onion powder
4 tsp beau monde seasoning (a seasoning blend, often available in the spice section of the supermarket, available through Amazon if not)
Quick Tomato Soup
Yield: 2 servings
1 15-oz jar plain crushed tomatoes (be sure to check the label, a lot of them have other flavorings in them)
1/2 tsp tomato soup seasoning (see recipe above)
1/4 tsp salt (will vary depending on the brand of tomatoes you use)
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 TBS corn syrup
1 cup milk (or water)
Mix all ingredients in a sauce pot and cook over medium-high heat until it starts to boil and turns bright red. Serve with shredded cheese and sprinkle with oregano. Also very good with pepperoni that has been nuked in the microwave to a crisp. Yum!