Friday, September 24, 2010

Tomato Soup and Maybe Tomato Sauce

For a simpler recipe, click HERE -- it's based on the final results from this series of experiments (9-3-11).

Welcome to my laboratory! What started out to be a simple soup recipe morphed into a fun lab experiment.

Kid Rating on Final Product (strained with butter and flour): 2.5 out of 3 kids liked it
Do Again: Yes

I started with a recipe from Roni's Green Lite Bites and modified it. I noticed one of Roni's commentators, RG, mentioned using flour and butter, so I made half of the batch with flour and butter. And, either my blender isn't very good or I didn't blend long enough, but the puree's consistency wasn't as fine looking as Roni's, so I strained half of the batch.

What we tested tasted:

Unstrained/No Butter/No Flour
Unstrained with Butter & Flour

Strained/No Butter/No Flour
Strained with Butter & Flour

Confused, yet? Here we go!

15 Tomatoes (from farmers' market and friends garden -- thanks, Becky!)
1 small onion coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic crushed
1 tsp kosher salt
2 T dried basil
1/2 tsp of sugar

Tomatoes, salt, garlic, onion, basil, sugar
(ignore flour and butter, I shifted gears after taking the picture)
Cut away stems and blemishes
Puree in blender (I did it in batches)
Add onion, garlic, and basil in blender (I added it to tomato batches) and blend until smooth

Bring to boiling
Add salt and sugar
Lower and simmer 1/2 hour
Pink and foamy before cooking
Red after cooking
Family Review of Unstrained/No Butter/No Flour
5 y.o. - (I didn't bother testing him until we all chose our favorite version).
9 y.o. - "I like the texture, but it's a little sour like a tomato."
10 y.o. - Flavor is good but wishes it was smoother.
Hubby - (Unexcited) "Yeah, I guess."
Me - Wonderful flavor. I'd be happy with it as-is. It would be a good pasta sauce if it was thicker. --Which brings me to turning this recipe into a lab experiment.

To half of the above recipe/batch I added:
1/2 - 1 T Butter
1 T Flour
1/2 tsp sugar (to help that tomatoee taste my daughter spoke of)

Add the butter to the batch
Transfer some soup to a bowl and mix in the flour (to prevent lumps)
1 T flour with some of the soup before mixing
Flour and soup after mixing. Now slowly stir this
back into the soup pot.
Slowly stir the flour mixture back into the soup pot.
Add the sugar.

Family Review of Unstrained With Butter and Flour:
9 y.o. - "It's a little better. Still a little sour."
10 y.o. - (Not available to test; playing at a friend's house).
Hubby - (Same look) "Yeah, OK."
Me - I like it.

To the other half of the Unstrained/No Butter/No Flour batch:
Using my grandmother's strainer that's probably at least 50 years old, I tried to press the soup's liquid through.

Very thin.
I just reheated it.
Family Review of Strained, No Butter, No Flour:
9 y.o. - "It's good." She liked the texture and flavor
Hubby - Seems thin.
Me - Great flavor. Very thin.

To half of the strained batch:
1/2 - 1 T Butter - add to pot
1 T Flour - do as above (transfer a small amount of soup to a bowl, stir in flour, stir back into soup pot).
1/2 tsp sugar

Heat to boiling, stir occasionally
The final result: smooth and thicker -- The Family Winner
Family Review of Strained with Butter and Flour:
5 y.o. - "I love it!" And he did. He licked his bowl clean and finished Marie's after she changed her mind.
9 y.o. - At first: "It's good." Then after eating it a bit: "Still too bitter." (Skye, the 5 y.o. finished it).
10 y.o. - "I like it, but there's a little weird taste to it." Yeah, whatever. He went to town on it and gobbled it up.
Hubby - (with enthusiasm this time) "I like that one. Yeah. Thicker but smooth. I love it."
Me - It's good. I'm disappointed that I'm missing out on all the pulp and fiber that was strained away, and the yield wasn't much. The procedure had more steps in it than I was initially hoping for. I'll try Roni's again but try to blend it longer to see if I can make it smoother and keep the pulp.

We're not finished, yet. Do you remember the pulp in the strainer and the remaining batch of "Unstrained with Butter and Flour?" TOMATO SAUCE!

Add pulp to lonely, rejected batch of wannabe soup.
Add 1 tsp of sugar.
Heat and stir.

Yum! I look forward to trying it with another meal.
I'm storing it in the fridge. I'll let you know how the family likes it during another meal.

Update - On a different date, I tried pureeing the tomatoes in a blender for a longer duration -- much better. I used the puree for a chili recipe when I was out of canned tomato soup. I'll try the soup recipe again. I'm encouraged that my blender will do the job.


  1. LOVE all these experiments! I'm glad i'm not the only one that tries things out on their family. :)

    Note: you could reduce the strained no butter/flour one be simmering longer after you strain. It would make it thicker. Or add just a tablespoon of flour, not butter it will still thicken.

    I have a feeling you and I could do a lot of brainstorming. lol

  2. Thanks, Roni! Maybe after more experience with cooking I'll be better at brainstorming and coming up with things. But, it does look like a storm went through my kitchen when I cook. LOL

  3. Wow, I'm honored. I guess strained is closest to using tomato juice or tomato paste (which is what my Mom starts with), but I feel as you do about losing so much pulp. I've had a couple of really good gazpacho's lately - the pepper and cucumber also seem to reduce the acidity. Or maybe just croutons? And what, ultimately, is a grilled cheese other than flour and butter?