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Tomato soup

Serves 8

There are two ways to make this. In the first method, the tomatoes are cored, then cut up. Everything goes into the pot, including the seeds and skins, which give the soup body. Then you have to work the mixture through a food mill to make the puree and discard the seeds and skins. In the second method, core the tomatoes, drop them into a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds, then peel off the skins. Cut up the tomatoes, seeds and all, and simmer them in the soup. Then puree the mixture in a blender. I prefer the food mill system - it seems easier than peeling the tomatoes first - but I've made the blender version many times as well with great success.

12 large native tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup water or chicken stock
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil (about 2 packed cups)
2 teaspoons sherry or white-wine or red-wine vinegar

1. Core the tomatoes, peel them if using a blender, and cut them up. Discard any soft or bruised spots.

2. In a soup pot, heat the oil until it is hot. Add the tomatoes with plenty of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid.

3. Add the water or stock and basil. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer the soup for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have completely collapsed.

4. If the tomatoes were not peeled, work the mixture a few ladles at a time through a food mill into a clean pot. If the tomatoes were peeled, puree the soup a few ladles at a time in a blender. Return to a clean pot.

5. Add the vinegar, taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Freeze in one-quart containers, leaving 1-inch head space at the top so the liquid can expand. To serve, bring the soup to a boil and ladle into mugs.

Sheryl Julian

Notes:

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