Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Recipe for a Chunky, Creamy Tomato Soup

Chunky, Creamy Tomato Soup

Not until adulthood did I like tomato soup. You know that whole tomato-soup-and-grilled-cheese thing that makes people go all warm, fuzzy and nostalgic? Lost on me. I wasn’t fed that as a child, and every time I confess it, I get these rather sad looks in return.

We did have soup when I was growing up, but not a soup in which tomatoes had a solo. We had vegetable soup canned each summer from whatever was in the garden at that time.

Yes, I saw those Campbell’s commercials, too. The only store-bought soup at our house was cream of mushroom and it was used primarily as a cooking ingredient. Truly a mother’s little helper, a can or two was slipped into all manner of dishes.

The tomato soup revelation hit me at Food Dance Café, where its creamy tomato soup has a near cult-like following. A bright tomato flavor, just-right chunky texture and rich creaminess won me over.

Home-canned tomatoes are perfect for making soup.
A menu of excellent dishes is one reason we were regulars at Food Dance over the 15 years of living in west Michigan. Another reason is that chef-owner Julie Stanley was supporting farmers and local food systems long before it was popular. That side of black beans? Kirklin Farms. The corn? Rose Scobey. The jam? Homemade by the restaurant.

Having moved six hours away, I have to make my own tomato soup. It’s what we need now that true cold has finally replaced the unseasonable warmth. I set about to create a version as close as possible to the Food Dance ideal. This comes pretty close.

Chunky, Creamy Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 large rib of celery, finely minced
1 large carrot, finely minced
1 big clove garlic, crushed into a paste
16 oz. stock, chicken or vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
2 (28 oz.) cans whole tomatoes (or 2 quarts of your home canned tomatoes)
1/2 cup half and half (or evaporated milk)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of dried dill

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add celery and carrot, then sauté about 5 minutes, taking care that the butter doesn’t burn. Add garlic. When garlic becomes fragrant, add the stock, salt, pepper and dill. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.

Let the carrot and celery cook in the stock until they become tender, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Using a potato masher, break up the tomatoes until they are in small chunks. Add a little water to reach the consistency you prefer.

All the soup to simmer for another 15 minutes. Lower the heat. Add the half and half, stirring gently to incorporate. Remove from heat and serve.


  1. So glad that #baketogether led me to your beautiful blog. Love, love, love your recipes. I can't wait to try those lemon cookies.

  2. Thank you, Karen! I love how #baketogether brings us into each other's kitchens.


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