Published September 1, 2008.
Plain tomato soup can be thin and sharp. Adding cream—the usual stodgy solution—merely dulls it. We wanted to tame the tartness without losing flavor.
Too many versions of tomato soup either feature an acidic, watery broth or an overdose of cream. Though it’s meant to tame tartness and lend body, adding cream goes hand-in-hand with muting flavor.
We wanted a tomato soup with good looks, velvety smoothness, and a bright, tomatoey taste. And we wanted it without the cream.
First, we chose canned tomatoes—they’re almost always better than the average supermarket tomatoes plus they’re already peeled. To begin brightening the flavor, we swapped out the butter used to sauté our onion and garlic base for olive oil, finding that milk solids in the butter tamped down the tomato flavor (much as cream does). A bay leaf and a pinch of red pepper flakes also upped flavor. We added the vegetables to the tomatoes and a can of chicken broth, then added a touch more oil and a couple tablespoons of brandy before pureeing the soup in the blender. But we still needed to address tartness and thinness. A little brown sugar toned down the bite, and we were pleasantly surprised when we added an ingredient suggested by classic Spanish gazpacho: bread. Not only did bread further temper the acidity, but it also served as a thickener. However, adding bread required us to reorder our procedure since we needed to limit the amount of liquid in the blender to prevent ending up with bread chunks swimming in a sea of broth. It was simple enough to puree the tomatoes with the aromatics and bread before adding to the pan along with the broth.list of recipes