There’s something about nostalgia that clouds judgement quite a bit. I have the absolute fondest memories of watching Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal” when I was little (vital essence! HISSSS), but I caught a snippet of it on tv in recent years and what. the. actual. hell. That movie is dark. And straaange. Probably affected my development in some deep way – but that’s neither here nor there. I’m really talking about canned tomato soup. I’ve gone back to it since growing up and it’s just never as good as I remember. Combine that with the fact that I no longer trust canned condensed soup and obviously there needs to be an update, in the form of a recipe. I can’t go back and make The Dark Crystal not weird, but I can grow up some soup for adult consumption.
I feel like a mad scientist-thief for bastardizing this tomato sauce recipe (even more than I already have) but it’s just the perfect foundation for a smooth, slightly sweet, simple and nostalgic tomato soup. Marcella, you’re a genius, please don’t hate me.
So basically you take Marcella’s famous tomato sauce, cook it down until the pot is almost dry when you scrape your spoon across the bottom, add chicken stock, a judicious bit of seasoning and heat, and buzz it up with a hand blender. I feel like this is how tomato soup is supposed to taste. And what’s a trip down memory lane without a proper sloppy grilled cheese? But maybe with a little gruyere mixed into the cheddar, because we’re grown ups.
Simple, Nostalgic Tomato Soup
-2 14.5 oz cans diced or crushed tomatoes
-3-4 Tbsp. butter
-1 onion, cut in half and peeled
-2 cups chicken stock
-a few dashes of tabasco
-salt, to taste
-optional: 1 tsp. sugar
1. Put canned tomatoes (undrained), butter, onion, and a pinch of salt in a medium-sized pot. Bring everything to a simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and the tomatoes are cooked down enough that the pot is dry when you scrape your spoon across the bottom. This will take at least 30 minutes, so you don’t have to watch it too carefully. If you’re dying to eat, you can turn the heat up to medium, but you’ll need to monitor and stir to keep things from burning.
2. Add chicken stock to the pot and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it’s smooth. Add tabasco and salt to taste.
3. I think the soup is good with or without sugar, but if you want more of that nostalgic sweetness, add up to a teaspoon of sugar. Taste again, see what you think (add more salt or tabasco as you like – sugar will change the flavor slightly so you may want to adjust) and eat up.
*For a grown-up grilled cheese, get two slices of your favorite bread, butter one side of each slice, and grate up equal parts of sharp cheddar and gruyere cheese. Heat your pan on medium-low, put the bread in butter-side down, pile the cheese on both sides and wait for it to melt. When it’s melted, slap the two sides together (cheese in, obviously) dip it in your soup, and eat it.