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Tina Marie Russ | San Bernard EC

20 medium-large ripe tomatoes, or more as desired
2 cans chicken broth (14.5 ounces each), divided use
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (choose red, yellow or orange for the best color)
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons tomato paste, or more as desired
3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk

1. Core the tomatoes, chop into 1-inch chunks and place them with their juice in a large stockpot. Add 1 can chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover pot and simmer until tomatoes are soft. Allow to cool slightly, then pour the tomato mixture through a large colander or sieve, pressing with a wooden spoon to extract all possible liquid. Discard seeds and peels. This should yield about 3 1/2 quarts of liquid.

2. Heat butter and oil in another stockpot over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, celery, carrot and peppers, and sauté until soft, about 6–7 minutes. Add salt, pepper and basil and sauté an additional 5 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low and gradually add the flour, stirring constantly to make a very thick paste. Slowly add 1 quart of tomato liquid, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Stir in tomato paste along with the remaining tomato liquid, remaining can of chicken broth and chicken bouillon. Simmer mixture about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

4. When you’re ready to serve, remove soup from the heat and stir in the cream. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt or pepper as desired.

Cook’s Tip

Consider garnishing this soup with fresh garden herbs such as basil, parsley or oregano.