If the only tomato soup you've ever had coincidentally was also the subject of an Andy Warhol piece of artwork, you, my dear friend, are missing out. Fresh tomato soup is like a bowl of sunshine in the dead of winter. It reminds you that in the midst of all of the cold and grey and sharp wind there is an oasis of warmth. You can close your eyes and remember being on the patio listening to the birds chirp, bees humming, the explosion of color all around.
This is liquid hope.
(yields about 5 quarts)
12 1/2 lb ripe tomatoes. I use a mixture of whatever I have, usually beefsteak, plum tomatoes, and my mom's yellow tomatoes
half a bunch of celery (about 7 stalks), washed, ends trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. If you're up to it, peel the long fibrous strings off.
6 medium-sized onions, chopped
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
2 cups water
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. cayenne pepper sauce (ie. Frank's Red Hot), or more, depending on personal preference.
Core, seed, and chop the tomatoes and place them in a 10-qt stock pot. Bring the tomatoes, water, celery, onion, lemon juice, cloves, and parsley to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the celery is tender, about 20 minutes. Skim off any foam that has formed. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, puree in a blender or food processor in small batches until all of the soup has been pureed. Return to stock pot and bring to a boil once again. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, pepper, and cayenne sauce, stirring until sugar completely dissolves. In a small saucepan, melt the butter completely. Whisk the flour into the butter, cooking over medium heat for one minute (roux). Add to the soup mixture, stirring until all of the roux is incorporated into the soup, and the soup has slightly thickened. Taste and add more sugar by the tablespoonful until you reach desired sweetness. Remove soup from heat.
At this point, you can fill hot, sterilized quart jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and process them in a hot water bath for 35 minutes. Alternately, you can freeze the cooled soup in plastic freezer bags, or plastic freezer containers; just remove as much air as possible from the freezer containers. It will keep in the freezer for about 6 months... if you can manage not to eat it all by then.
This post has been submitted to September's "Grow Your Own" blog event, hosted by Andrea of http://www.andreasrecipes.com/. Do join us!