While on the hunt for a fantastic tomato soup recipe, I looked at dozens of websites. Literally. There are a ton of them out there, but none of them really spoke to me. I liked some parts of most of them, but there was always something amiss. I'm sure that sherry is delicious in tomato soup, but I don't keep it in the house and didn't really want to go buy a bottle just for this. I wanted a soup that I can make again in the future without going too far out of my way. On the other hand, I also wanted the flavor to be more complex than just tomatoes and cream. This Food Network recipe hit the spot. It has several vegetables in it, so it isn't really "tomato-y" and it has bacon in it, which is interesting and delicious. It doesn't call for red wine, but I put some in there and it really ended up being a nice flavor.
This soup isn't really quick to make, but it certainly isn't like you have to let it simmer for hours on end. And the actual process of it is quite simple... though it's easy for me to say that because I made it while I was alone in my house with my mute dog and no time constraints. But, really, if you have the time to make this, it is way better than canned. I mean, there's bacon in it! How bad could it be?!
Here is the recipe (slightly adapted from Food Network Test Kitchens):
4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 slice bacon, finely chopped 1 onion, chopped 1 carrot, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour 4 cups chicken broth 1/2 cup red wine 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes 1/2 tsp dried parsley 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1 bay leaf 1 cup heavy cream 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp and most of the fat has rendered, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. I also threw the bacon back in the pot at this point. Why not, right? Next, pour in the broth, wine and tomatoes. Bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Throw in the bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. If you have fresh parsley and thyme then you can put all of the herbs into a little bundle, but it just wasn't happening for me. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, and then remove the pot from the heat and let cool.
Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot and reheat over medium heat. If you have an immersion blender then you can do this process a lot more easily and I'm guessing that your clean-up will be quicker, too!
Whisk in the heavy cream, salt, and pepper, to taste. Divide among warm soup bowls and serve immediately. I served my soup with toasted bagel croutons, which you can make by cutting up an old bagel, sprinkling it with olive oil, and toasting it. Yum!