This isn’t one of those involved, gourmet recipes. There is no cream in this soup, no fresh tomatoes and herbs. There is no chopping and sauteeing and pureeing. Effort-wise, it is only a small step up from dumping out the contents of a box or can into a pot and heating it up. Flavor-wise, it is very similar to what you get from the boxed soups (like the Trader Joe’s), but (a) it is a whole lot cheaper and (b) it is a whole lot more convenient.
Yes, you heard right. This recipe is even more convenient that pre-made soup. Why? Because all you need is a can of tomato paste, milk, flour, oil/butter, water, salt and pepper. All things you keep on hand all the time anyway.
Here is all that you have to do to make this soup:
Heat a little butter and flour in a saucepan. Add milk and stir until thick. Add tomato paste, water and some seasonings. Heat through and serve with grilled cheese sandwiches or open-faced cheese toasts.
It is amazing that you can get so much flavor from these modest ingredients, but I have been experimenting with cream of tomato soup recipes for some time now, and this is my favorite so far.
Cream of Tomato Soup
2 Tbl. butter (olive oil is fine as a substitute–just expect a different flavor)
2 Tbl. flour (I used Wondra, which instant blends for smooth sauces and gravies, but any flour is fine)
2 cups milk
6 ounce can tomato paste
6-8 ounces water (fill the tomato paste can with water and add it to the pot, maybe adding a little more water, as needed)
salt, black pepper, white pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. onion powder, optional
1 Tbl. Parmesan cheese, optional
1/8 tsp. oregano, optional
Make a bechamel sauce: melt the butter in a small pot; stir in the flour and cook the resulting paste (the roux) for 30 seconds to take off the raw flour taste. Add the milk gradually to the roux, stirring all the while. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens a bit.
Add the tomato paste and water to the pot, stirring them in until you have a thick, smooth tomato sauce/soup. Adjust the flavor with salt and pepper and, if desired, with other flavorings, such as onion powder, oregano, and Parmesan. Adjust the thickness with more milk/water.
Note: pureed roasted red pepper would be great stirred into this soup.