I may be the only person in North America who doesn’t love Campbell’s Tomato Soup. It was almost certainly served to me as a kid for lunch and I almost certainly didn’t eat it. To this day I don’t like any cream of tomato soup.
I would say that that points to something fundamentally Un-American about me (I don’t like pot roast or meatloaf either), but Fellow FoodBeest, I do love grilled cheese sandwiches (especially with bacon or tomato slices in-between the cheese) and I really love Tater Tots. And fried chicken. And apple pie (although I prefer berry or rhubarb). And Rice Krispie treats. And hot dogs. And corn-on-the-cob. And chocolate chip cookies. And almost anything barbequed. So I can’t be that bad.
With tomatoes abundant and in season I decided to see how I could remedy the problem and find a tomato soup recipe I actually like. I bought several pounds of tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market – both Heritage and cultivated hybrids. Just to see what would happen.
Here are rules about tomatoes. Like most rules, Fellow FoodBeest, they are based on what works, but you can make your own rules any time:
- If tomatoes are in season, use locally grown Heritage tomatoes. They can be red, yellow, green or purple.
- If you don’t have/can’t get Heritage tomatoes, use a locally grown cultivated hybrid variety like Beefsteak or Early Girl.
- Don’t use any supermarket tomatoes unless they are locally grown and in season – it kind of depends on your store.
- If you can’t find locally grown hybrids or Heritage tomatoes and/or tomatoes are just not in season, use a good canned tomato.
Then I went out in search of a tomato soup recipe that wasn’t creamed and was as far from the stuff in the red and white can that Andy Warhol immortalized as I could find.
I made two totally different tomato soups from two totally different parts of the world: California and Morocco. Here’s what happened.
Fresh California Tomato Soup
(Adapted from a recipe from the California Tomato Commission)
This may be a hot soup, but it tastes fresh, bright, and clean like a cool breeze on a sunny summer day. The zucchini and corn complement the tomato/broth base. The pasta shells give it body and substance.
What You Need To Make Fresh California Tomato Soup
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 T olive oil (if you don’t have a religious or ethical or vegetarian objection, and you happen to have some bacon grease or duck fat – by all means, use that instead. It would add an awesome dimension.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 C diced zucchini
2 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
6 C low-salt chicken or vegetable stock
1-1/2 C small dry pasta shells
4 C diced fresh tomatoes (I used yellow tomatoes – they seemed so much more California-like)
1/2 t each, dried (or 1 t each fresh) basil, oregano and thyme leaves
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t sugar
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
How to Make Fresh California Tomato Soup
In a large stock pot, over medium high heat, sauté onions and celery in oil (or bacon grease) until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, zucchini and corn; sauté 2 minutes.
Add stock, bring to a simmer. Add pasta, tomatoes, and seasonings. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
To serve: Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with 1 T Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.
Spiced Moroccan-Style Tomato Soup With Chickpeas
(Similar recipes are all over the Internet. I don’t know the original source)
This soup is nothing like Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soup. It is spicy, but not hot. It has a real wake-me-up flavor that is very typically Moroccan – almost like a tomato tagine. The garbanzos work really well in it. I might add some grilled shrimp for a meal.
What You Need To Make Spiced Moroccan-Style Tomato Soup With Chickpeas
1 onion, chopped
1 T minced garlic
1 T ginger
2 T olive oil
2 t cumin
2 t coriander
2 t cinnamon
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
2 C of chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 C cooked chickpeas (I know that canned chickpeas are not nearly as good as freshly cooked chickpeas, but, please, don’t feel guilty for an instant. For a home cook it’s a perfectly good shortcut.)
Parsley or cilantro
How to Make Spiced Moroccan-Style Tomato Soup With Chickpeas
Cook onion and garlic and ginger in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons each cumin, coriander and cinnamon; cook for 1 minute. Sautéing the spices really brings out their fragrance.
Add tomatoes, stock and cooked chickpeas.
Simmer until saucy. What’s “saucy?” You’ll know. It will look like soup instead of broth with stuff floating in it.
To serve: ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley or cilantro. Serves 6
Now you probably want to know which one is better, don’t you, Fellow FoodBeest? For us, it was an split decision. Some people who tried it liked one; some liked the other. Like deciding whether Elvis Costello is better than Elvis Presley. Or whether dahlias are better than peonies.
Now it’s really your turn, Fellow FoodBeest. Try these tomato soup recipes. Let us all know which you like best. You may be a Campbell’s devotee. That’s totally fine if you are. Or even better, post your favorite tomato soup recipe in the comment section below.