recipe: cream of tomato soup | spinach salads

the great thing about this meal is that you can pull it together from kitchen staples – canned tomatoes, celery, onions, spinach (or another green), pears (or apples or some other crunchy fruit) and your house dressing. we usually keep some sort of salad green about the house and these days, spinach has been the culprit ’cause it keeps the longest.

this soup is originally from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (our admitted kitchen bible) and i’ve been making it and variations of it for years now. its trick? cloves. just a pinch and voila… palette magic. tonight, i paired it with a spinach salad that had yummy red pears, croutons and a simple balsamic vinaigrette.


2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled between your fingers
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons flour
Two 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes in puree or juice
Pinch of baking soda
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 1/2 cups milk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION: Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, basil, and cloves; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is limp, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, then add the tomatoes, baking soda, and stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Let cool briefly, then puree in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, add the milk, and season with salt. If the soup is too thick, thin it with additional milk or stock. If the tomato flavor isn’t as rich as you’d like (if the tomatoes were packed in water instead of puree), deepen it by stirring in a little tomato paste. Serve the soup piping hot with fresh pepper ground into each bowl.

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