Serving It Up — Creamy tomato soup with homemade vegetable stock

Published 3:13 pm Thursday, December 15, 2022

It’s that wonderful time of year again in which the days are shorter, colder and we can’t wait to get home to our loved ones and cuddle up under a fuzzy blanket with a big bowl of warm, comforting soup in our hands. 

Not to toot my own horn, but I believe I may have perfected one of the world’s most comforting dishes -tomato soup- and I’m sharing that recipe with you all in hopes that it will bring you some warmth and joy this holiday season. 

This soup takes inspiration from chef Ina Garten’s recipe for Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. I’ve made some adjustments and included some decadent upgrades by adding in a few roasted peppers, parmesan, cream and my secret ingredient: a touch of brown sugar! And perhaps the best part is that this recipe includes instructions on how to prepare your own vegetable stock from kitchen scraps collected in a freezer bag! It’s resourceful, it’s fun and it’s downright delicious. 

Here’s the recipe: 

CREAMY TOMATO SOUP WITH HOMEMADE VEGETABLE STOCK 

Prep time: 10 minutes 

Cook time: 1 hour and 25 minutes 

Total time: 1 hour and 35 minutes 

Servings: 5 

Ingredients: 

• 1 gallon-sized Ziploc bag’s worth of frozen vegetable scraps (or 4 cups chicken broth) 

• 1 cube of Knorr Chicken Bouillon (if making homemade broth) 

• 2.5 lbs. roma tomatoes, halved 

• 6 oz. baby tomatoes 

• 1 (28 oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes 

• 1 red bell pepper, sliced 

• 2 large yellow onions, diced 

• 7 cloves of garlic, minced 

• 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. olive oil 

• 2 tbsp. salted butter 

• 2 cups basil leaves, packed 

• 1 tsp. fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. Dried thyme 

• 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 

• 1 tsp. brown sugar 

• Salt and pepper to taste 

• 1 cup parmesan cheese 

• 1/4 cup heavy cream of half/half 

Recipe: 

Traditionally, tomato soup is made with chicken broth. However, I’ve included within this recipe instructions on how to make your own vegetable broth which can be made into chicken broth using a bit of chicken bouillon. 

Making homemade vegetable broth has become a tiny obsession of mine over the last few months. In my kitchen, vegetable scraps are flying all over the place nearly every day and I began to feel guilty about not making use of the items that don’t make it into the final dish like vegetable peels, onion skins, the tops of bell peppers, etc. 

You could always compost these items, but another great way to make use of your veggie scraps is to make a homemade broth, and it’s extremely easy and tasty! All you need to do is collect your vegetable scraps in a large, gallon-sized Ziploc bag which you store in the freezer. As you cook throughout the month (or however long it takes you to fill the bag up) simply toss your scraps in the bag and place it back in the freezer. 

When deciding what vegetables to include in your stock, keep in mind that foods in the Brassica family such as broccoli, cabbage or bok choy will turn broth bitter. Vegetables like onions, carrots, garlic, mushrooms, celery, leeks and bell peppers are great in vegetable stock, and other herbs and veggies like dill, thyme, eggplant, green beans and asparagus (plus way more) are very good in small quantities, no more than 1/10 of the bag. 

Begin this soup recipe by preheating your oven to 400º. While the oven is heating up, take your bag of frozen vegetable scraps and empty it into a large pot. Cover the scraps with water and add in a few bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the water to boil before reducing to a simmer. Allow the stock to simmer for 45 minutes. 

While the stock is simmering, you can roast your tomatoes. Add your sliced roma tomatoes, baby tomatoes and sliced bell pepper to a baking dish. Toss in ¼ cup of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the dish in the oven and allow it to roast for 45 minutes. 

Once your stock has finished cooking, use a bowl beneath a colander to strain out the vegetable scraps. You could stop here, or add one cube of chicken bouillon in order to turn your veggie stock into a nice chicken stock perfect for tomato soup. 

To a large pot or dutch oven, add in the remaining oil and butter, the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. 

To the pot, add four cups of your homemade broth, the can of tomatoes, brown sugar, basil, thyme, and your tray of roasted vegetables with the juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 40 minutes. 

To finish off the soup, blend the mixture until velvety-smooth using a heat-safe blender (or a handheld, immersion blender if you’re like me and Christmas came early this year) before adding in the cream and parmesan. Serve topped with more cream, a drizzle of olive oil, a basil leaf and, of course, a gooey slice of grilled cheese!