When fall rolls around, I feel the same familiar urge to make tomato soup. My go-to recipe calls for fresh Roma tomatoes that you halve, drizzle with olive oil and roast with garlic and dried herbs; red wine; and heavy cream. And even though roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor and turns them deep red and charred, the soup always tastes a little bland. I find myself adding more red wine, more salt.
But that was not the soup I made earlier this week.
The tomato soup I made earlier this week has no cream, no red wine and — surprise! — canned whole tomatoes. And it is positively bursting with the kind of freshness and flavor you get from a big, hefty, slightly dusty and warm-from-the-sun tomato pulled straight from a vine in your garden.
The ingredients are simple: two 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes, onions, garlic, water, salt. But the soup gets more interesting with the addition of fennel two ways: fresh slices of fennel bulb and a palmful of fennel seeds.
As the recipe’s author, food blogger Molly Wizenberg advises you in A Homemade Life, you have to let it cook for a while so everything melds together. Otherwise, it tastes watery and raw. So I let it bubble and bollop (that’s a made-up word, not a typo) on low all morning Sunday while we took the kids to see Planes.
Molly has you crush the little golf ball-sized tomatoes with your bare hands as you add them to the pot. I did it while the tomatoes were still in the can to avoid squirting myself with tomato juice.
But it left the soup too chunky for my taste. My hand-held blender helped smooth it out a bit.
It’s been a versatile soup to have around this week — almost like a warm gazpacho. I’ve had it straight up with a spoon; with last night’s reheated garlic bread; and in a little single-serving souffle cup alongside scrambled eggs.
It’s not as indulgent as my old stand-by. But it was fast and right for an unseasonably cool August weekend.