Acidic bite, muted flavor, watery texture: these are all complaints that we have had about tomato soup recipes in the past. Apparently Cook's Illustrated agreed because their recipe for Creamy Creamless Tomato Soup in their September/October issue addresses all these issues and more.
The cooks' first step was to do away with all the dairy found in the standard tomato soup recipes, explaining that this was the culprit behind muted flavor. Next they tried several alternative thickeners and finally settled on adding a few slices of torn up sandwich bread to the soup, an old trick in Italian cuisine.
When Cook's Illustrated sets out to do something, they do it right. Cooked and blended, this soup had the thick silkiness you'd expect from adding cups and cups of heavy cream. And yet the flavors were bright and clear, tasting distinctly - and appropriately - of fresh tomato. The fact that the soup is ready in under a half hour is an added bonus.
We tasted this soup both hot and cold, and were satisfied with both versions. We also used a food processor instead of a blender and had no difficulty pureeing it to a creamy consistency.
We do wish the cooks had offered a variation using fresh tomatoes instead of canned, especially since our fridge is overflowing with tomatoes from our CSA! At the same time, we'll look forward to this recipe come January when there's nary a fresh tomato in sight and we need a reminder of summer.
This issue is also packed with other great articles, including recipes for oven-fried fish and skillet apple pie and reviews of mail-order bacon and drip coffee makers. Definitely worth picking up a copy.
• Copies of the September/October 2008 issue of Cook's Illustrated, which includes this recipe, are available for $5.95 at bookstores and news stands everywhere. Subscriptions are also available through the Cook's Illustrated website.
(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)