Friday, August 19, 2005

Mum's Mater Soup.

We canned a whole cubic buttload of soup today, diced tomatoes too. I can't help it, we found good tomatoes for 6.00 a box, and it NEEDED to happen.

I cannot begin to describe to you how wonderful this soup is, or tell you how much I love it in the middle of winter. It's perfect with macaroni, a tiny shake of parmesan cheese, and some pepper (or just plain.) And you don't necessarily HAVE to do this with fresh tomatoes, but it IS summer, so why not make a big old batch, and freeze some?

To make a human-sized batch of soup (starting from tomatoes)

Get enough tomatoes to fill a nice sized dutch oven (or small stock pot, or whatever you use to make chili). Eyeball it. If you have some tomatoes left over, have a sandwich. Whack up the tomatoes into chunks, and when your pot is about 3/4 of the way full, get your hands in there and squish them up. (This is best done with tomatoes that have just come in from being outside- they're still warm, and extra gooshy.) If you're prissy, you can use a potato masher to do this, but I'll ignore you on the street. (unless you have arthritis or carpal tunnel. Then you get a pass.) Add in a cut up onion. (1 small or 1/2 large) and a few bay leaves (4 or 5).

Pop the pot onto the stove, and cook over medium/high heat stirring frequently (so the bottom doesn't scorch) till you smell the bay leaf, the tomatoes have fallen to bits, and you've been boiling for a bit. Turn off the heat and grab your handy dandy food mill. Yes. Food Mill. NOT A BLENDER. NOT A FOOD PROCESSOR. They will not work, and you will be smited by hot tomato guts. And yes, the mill in the picture is expensive. You can get one for around 25 bucks, less if you scour yard sales.

Pop the mill on top of another nice sized pot, and ladle in a good bit of your hot tomato, bay, and onion mixture. Turn the crank, and get to processing. Think about your grammy & your granny, and how they did this shit without air conditioning and possibly on a coal stove, not because they wanted to, but because they HAD to, or they weren't gonna eat in the winter. When you get down to just seeds and skin in the mill, keep going- grind them as much as you can, because they're what helps to make the soup thick. Repeat this process till you've squished all the tomatoes into juice. Pop your juice filled pot back onto the stove and start to heating it again.

Now's the time to season your soup. Add in about a cup or so of sugar (white is fine). Start at a half cup, and taste it, adding more till you're satisfied with the sweetness. Salt's next, and it's kind of a personal thing, so add salt till you're happy. Next up, take some of the hot juice in a pyrex measuring cup, or another bowl, or a coffee cup even, and add a few tablespoons of flour. Stir it well with a whisk, and add it back into the soup. Heat back up to a boil, and see if it's thick enough for your liking. If not, do the flour thing again.

That's all there is to it. It's work, but it's super delicious soup. :) Freeze it if you'd like, in plastic bags (once it's cooled) or can it according to the blue book, or eat it all in one sitting- whatever floats your boat. :)

This is where the lazy people/people who don't have access to good tomatoes come in.

I'll warn you, this isn't going to be quite as good as the real thing.

People who are not starting from fresh tomatoes should get a nice big bottle or two of good quality tomato juice (if you can get it without salt, so much the better).
Slice up a small onion really thin, and pop it into your pot, add the juice and a few bay leaves to it, and bring the whole shootin' match to a boil. Keep it going, stirring frequently, till the onions are soft. Fish the majority of the onions out, plus the bay leaves, and use your stick blender on the rest. Season with salt & sugar to taste, then do the flour trick you saw above. It's not perfect, but it will do in a pinch.

Serve either one with cooked macaroni, or grilled cheese sandwiches, or just pop it in a mug and be happy. :)


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