Rustic heirloom tomato soup

The tomato soup of my youth came in a can.

Bright and shimmering orange, as thin as water— the only way to make it more robust in structure and sustenance was to dunk the crusty edges of my grilled cheese into its depths. Not that that was a problem.

These days— particularly the ones at the tail end of summer— my tomato soup comes from the discounted bounty of unwanted heirloom tomatoes.

Although they fall on the pricier spectrum of summer produce, you can buy heirlooms for cheap if you go for the ones with the bruised shoulders and blemished bottoms.

Once they are chopped up, simmered down and married with olive oil, there is no way to tell that they were once lowly woebegone tomatoes.

This soup comes together quickly, makes more servings than one can’s worth and has an intense tomato flavor that sings of late summer in each bite.

Tomato Soup
After just a few minutes of preparation, this childhood favorite is turned into a sophisticated soup Photo credit: Grace Kerfoot

Rustic Heirloom Tomato Soup

Makes about 6 cups

1 hefty pour of olive oil, or a scoop of rendered bacon fat

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, grated

2 carrots, grated

5 large heirloom tomatoes, a mix of red and yellow preferably

2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup chopped basil

Salt & pepper

Step 1: Before starting to cook, prep all your ingredients. Even if you are impatient to cook, take 5 minutes to chop everything ahead of time— it will make the rest of the process go much smoother.

Step 2: Heat oil or bacon fat in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. To the pot, add the chopped onion and the grated garlic and carrots, sauteing until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes).

Step 3: Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar and a large pinch of salt. Stir gently. Bring everything to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer (or low boil) for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, you can wash some dishes and rub some toasted bread with fresh garlic and butter for serving.

Step 4: After the 30 minutes are up, use a ladle or measuring cup to transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Add the pureed soup back to the pot, along with the chopped basil and cracked pepper.

Serve with buttery garlic bread and a drizzle of olive oil.

Grace Kerfoot can be reached at [email protected] or @gracekerf on Twitter.