Comfort food: Tomato Soup!

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In the last blog post in their four part series on different food hamper program foods, Chloe explores using tomatoes in a simple recipe.

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At the Food Hamper Program, we give out tomatoes in a couple of different ways. Because we have built a lot of relationships with local farmers over the years, we can get a lot of whole tomatoes depending on the growing season and time of year. When we have a lot, it can be challenging to give people ideas on what they can do with them all.

Additionally, soup is a staple item here, and there have been days when the only soup we have is tomato soup. For a lot of larger families we usually give out tomato paste, sauce, or canned tomatoes, in combination with pasta, to larger families.  Those are all ingredients that can be used as a base to build a soup from scratch or add a little flavor to another soup when you’re short a few ingredients.

With all of that in mind, I decided to go through the program’s recipe box again, and chose a recipe for homemade tomato soup.

Home made tomato soup – Food Hamper style

7 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes

1 cup finely chopped carrots

¾ cup finely chopped onion to a boil

A can of soup broth (or stock cubes)

1tbsp sugar

2 and ¼ tsp salt

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

1 cup milk

2 tsp basil

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ pepper

Instead of using raw tomatoes as the recipe states, my mom and I thought it would be easier to use canned tomatoes. We used two 746 mL cans. This definitely cut down on the prep time needed for this recipe!

To begin, I poured the 2 cans of tomatoes into a pot, and mixed this with the chopped onion and carrots, and let it come to a boil. The onion I used was a golden onion, but I think that any type of onion could be used. At the Food Hamper Program, we are able to give out onions fairly frequently.  After this step, I turned the stove down and let it simmer for half an hour. After this time, I added the full can of soup broth (I used chicken broth), the tablespoon of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt, into the mixture. The recipe then says to melt 3 tablespoons of butter into a pan. We instead decided to microwave it and this is where it got a little trickier. After, I whisked the 3 tablespoons of flour into the butter, until it became thick. Then, as I did for the Sweet Potato Pie recipe, I substituted half and half for milk, and whisked that into the mixture. This step is supposed to make the flour mixture thicker, but that was not successful for me and it turned out a little lumpy.  Ideally, you warm the butter in a pan, slowly add the flour to make a thick mixture and slowly add some milk (or in this case cream) until it makes a uniform mixture called a roux. This flour, milk butter mix will help thicken the soup but a quick survey of staff and volunteers here indicated that it is pretty tricky to get it at the right consistency the first few times.  Even still, I added this mixture to the pot and it did the trick. I then seasoned the soup with the basil, garlic powder, and pepper. Although at this point, the recipe called for another ¼ teaspoon of salt, my mom decided against doing that, as she found that the soup was salty enough.

At this point, I stopped following the recipe. The recipe says to continue cooking the soup for another hour until it is thick enough. I did not read this part of the recipe until after I had gone through all of the steps, and at this point my mom and I were very hungry! So we instead let the soup simmer for another twenty minutes. The entire process took 1 1/2 hours.

The tomato soup was very tasty. We decided to eat it with grilled cheese, making it a great Sunday dinner! This will also make a few more meals for both of us, which I am looking forward too.

Through this project, we have been able to try different recipes using many different ingredients found in the food hampers.   Our time here this summer has just flown by and we hope you enjoyed our series!  Each day at Food Hampers we share a little more knowledge and receive a bit more from our patrons as they share different approaches to cooking and tips for new and creative ways to prepare new dishes.

Want to help us carry on the conversation?  Leave a comment, and share your ideas or recipes below!

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