Quick and Non-Experimental Tomato Soup

The Smarkster isn’t feeling well today and among his complaints is that he’s hungry but doesn’t want food. I suggested soup and he asked if I’d make tomato soup. It’s so easy that although I wanted to make it as quickly as possible for him, I figured I might as well take pictures and write it up for the blog while I was at it. I just went to Penzey’s last weekend and have a bunch of new spices I’d love to have played with, but I figured if Smark wasn’t feeling well, it wasn’t the right time to experiment.

Quick and Non-Experimental Tomato Soup

1/4 onion, diced
1 small or 1/2 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
14.5 ounces vegetable stock or vegan broth (1 tomato can-full)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
fresh basil for garnish

Saute the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in a soup pot.

Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf. Let cool for a few minutes, then blend, either with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.

Reheat if necessary and garnish with fresh basil. I didn’t have any fresh basil so I threw a small cube of frozen basil in the pot and stirred until melted.

Here’s hoping Smark feels better!

Caution, soup is hot!

I forgot to give him a lemon wedge, but if I were serving myself, I’d probably squeeze a little lemon over it. I think fresh lemon brightens everything.

I put a loaf of Jeffrey Hamelman’s beer bread into the oven to bake just before starting the soup. I plan to serve it with dinner.

There are two things that bread bakers hope to achieve in every loaf of bread, but which sometimes seem to happen randomly, perhaps when Fornax is smiling upon you: oven spring and a crust that literally crackles as it begins to cool after removing from the oven. Oven spring is the extra rise you get a couple minutes after putting the loaf into the oven. This you can control a little bit, in fact, scoring (slashing) is done to control how oven spring affects the bread (by giving the crust a location to expand), but it seems like some loaves spring right up in the oven and others don’t much at all – and that the only deciding factor is luck! I’ve made three different kinds of bread from Bread so far and all of my loaves have had great oven spring. And when I pulled this beer bread from the oven, it started crackling delightfully as I was taking its picture!

I have been really happy with the loaves I’ve baked from this book, and there are so many, many loaves to go! It’s an excellent book and the loaves are a pure delight and joy to bake. Everything just seems to go so smoothly when I follow these recipes. If you are serious about learning to bake bread, I highly recommend this book, although it’s pretty intensive and there are only a few photographs (there are simple drawings that illustrate techniques where necessary). If you are thinking only casually of getting into bread baking, you may find Peter Reinhart’s books a bit more accessible. You could start with this book, but you’ll have to be prepared to read in order to learn the techniques…not look at pictures. For someone who pretty much has the hang of the basics of bread baking but who wants more practice, this book is absolutely perfect.

I can’t wait to taste the beer bread. It’s made with roasted barley, whole wheat flour, and BEER! I only made one loaf instead of the two the recipe was scaled for, which meant I had half a beer leftover this morning. Which meant I drank half a beer before breakfast this morning. Was that wrong?


  1. Dianne R., a.k.a. Magoo to Smarkster Said,

    September 13, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

    You did a remarkable job on the bread! I love browsing your site.

    Saturday is the day I sell at the large organic farmer’s market, and since I am the only baker, the farmers all trade me food for bread. I came home with a flat of muscadines and scupernongs, three different kinds of squash, the ever-present okra (which I threw in the dehydrator), potatoes, 4 bags of fresh peas, eggs, a huge bag of red peppers (that they were going to compost!) and a few onions.

    I’ll browse your site for inspiration on what to do with it all.

  2. renae Said,

    September 14, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

    Wow, I’d love to be able to trade bread for fresh veggies! That’s quite a haul! I’m jealous of the oven at your bakery; I didn’t realize you could have steam injection on a brick oven.

    I never thought about dehydrating okra (I actually haven’t used the dehydrator for much other than tofu jerky for Smark) – is it good that way?

  3. Dianne R., a.k.a. Magoo to Smarkster Said,

    September 14, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

    I’ve been experimenting with dehydrating a lot of the vegetables so I can have the local things during the winter months. The okra shrinks a lot. I dried some sliced. I ate some before I froze them and they were pretty tasty. The last batch I just threw in whole, so I’ll have to chop them before I use them, but it works. They get very small.

    I’ve done hot peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes and herbs. I’ve innoculated logs with two kinds of mushrooms (I live in the woods), so when they start growing, I’ll probably dry them too. I can’t wait to have free shitakes.

    I wish you could hear 40 or 50 loaves of bread all crackling at once. It’s one of a baker’s favorite pleasures.

    I keep looking at that soup. I might have to make some today. It looks so good.

    You know what? Farmers love to barter because they compost so much of their veggies. I always tell my customers who make food to bring me something and I’ll give them bread. I get some really nice fresh food that way and they get free bread! You might make friends with some of your local farmers and trade them food or bread for veggies. They’d probably love you for it. They keep long hours and I see many of them even stopping at McDonald’s now and again, so you KNOW they’re desperate. If it’s person-to-person trading, there are no health codes involved, so you can give them food just like you would a friend.

  4. Mark Said,

    September 14, 2008 @ 9:10 pm

    it’s awesome that some of my wow friends comment on my wife’s blog. It’s almost like I’ve justified playing it so much.

  5. Alexis Said,

    September 15, 2008 @ 4:22 pm

    This looks so easy and good. Thank you for all your simple and tasty soup recipes. Soon I’ll have enough in my repertoire that I won’t end up making crappy soup for myself anymore!

  6. Joyce Said,

    December 7, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    This will be perfect for mandatory dinner tomorrow. Be sure to tell Mark that I’m looking forward to Ethiopian food.

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