You may think it’s odd of me to post a soup during the summer but I make this throughout the year. In Boulder, we have two restaurants on the same city block that both serve outrageously good tomato soup – The Kitchen Cafe and SALT the Bistro. My office used to be right next to them in the heart of a culinary plethora of lunch hot spots. If you’re ever in Boulder, both of these restaurants should be on your “must dine” list.
This recipe was given to me by one of the managers of The Kitchen. You can also find it on their website along with many other popular recipes. I love that they are so generous with sharing recipes. I modified it slightly… but not much as it’s probably perfect as written. It’s creamy but has a very strong tomato taste that you will enjoy any time of the year.
As with most good tomato soup recipes, they recommend San Marzano Tomatoes. If you haven’t discovered San Marzanos then prepare to elevate anything you prepare with tomatoes. I won’t buy any other canned tomato. Buy a can at your local grocer and you’ll see why. An open can of San Marzano’s will fill your kitchen with an intoxicating tomato fragrance. I use the Bella Terra brand which I find at my local Whole Foods.
San Marzano’s grow near the city of San Marzano in the shadows of Mount Vesuvius. Legends claim that the first tomato seed was given to the King of Naples by the King of Peru in the 1770’s. This is probably not exactly true, but it seems a fitting tale for this royal plum tomato. The story of origin and how they cultivate and harvest these tomatoes is fascinating. The seeds were planted near Mount Vesuvius and over the years were crossed and cultivated into what we can buy today. The City of Naples calls for these tomatoes in their world famous Neapolitan style pizza that is considered the undisputed best pizza in the world. When you look for them, be sure you buy the certified organic variety. There are some impostors on the shelves. Look for a DOP label which guarantees you’re buying the real thing. Whenever I am making a tomato sauce of any kind – I reach for a can of these wonderful little immigrants from Italy.
Back to the soup…
You can’t have tomato soup without grilled cheese. At Salt Bistro, they make a tiny grilled cheese “crouton” using goat cheese and place it in the soup. It’s a heavenly bite. Any grilled cheese accompanies this nicely but I would lean towards Gruyere or goat cheese on grilled sourdough bread.
This recipe is definitely an indulgence. It has butter, cream and with a grilled cheese… you get the picture. Did I mention the drizzle of olive oil to finish it?
Creamy San Marzano Tomato Soup
- 1 stick of organic, unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- Sea salt
- 2 (28 oz) cans of certified San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes (undrained)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream (plus more if desired)
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
In a large soup pot, melt the butter on low heat. Add the thin slices of onions and coat with the butter. Season generously with sea salt. Make sure the heat is at its lowest setting, cover and allow onions to cook for about 30 minutes until soft and translucent. Use that low heat so the onions don’t brown. You want them soft and sweet.
Add San Marzanos and their juices to the onions. Increase the heat just a touch to allow the mixture to simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix) and blend in batches. Slowly pour a portion of the cream into each batch until you’ve reached a desired creaminess. Taste as you blend and season with sea salt and pepper.
Serve very hot. I poured the soup back into the original pot (after I rinsed it out) and heated it a little more before I served it. Drizzle a little olive oil on the surface. SALT the Bistro uses a basil oil on theirs..