Kitchn Love Letters

Smitten Kitchen Has a Clever Trick for Making the Best Tomato Soup Ever

published Feb 6, 2021
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Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

If you’re a fan of cooking, chances are you’re familiar with Smitten Kitchen. The longtime food blog created by Deb Perelman is beloved by many for its simple-yet-comforting recipes that are always a success. I’ve written about my love for her recipes in the past, and whenever I’m searching for a new recipe to make, Smitten Kitchen is one of the first places I turn.

One Smitten Kitchen recipe I’ve made countless times is her classic grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup. The soup (which is a simplified version of a recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook) is rich, comforting, and super-flavorful, thanks to a clever trick developed by the America’s Test Kitchen team. It’s one of those cold-weather recipes I make every time the temperature drops below freezing, and a bowl of the stuff can instantly warm me up. If you’re a fan of classic comfort food recipes, this soup is for you. It’s the best tomato soup I’ve ever had and I will never stop making it.

Get the recipe: Classic Grilled Cheese + Cream of Tomato Soup

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

The Clever Trick That Makes This Soup So Delicious

Unlike most tomato soups that simply cook the tomatoes in the pot along with all of the other ingredients, this recipe roasts the canned tomatoes to concentrate their flavor. To do so, you’ll strain your canned tomatoes into a colander placed over a bowl, then squeeze them with your hands to break them up. (This part is especially fun.) Scatter the tomatoes over a foil-lined sheet tray, sprinkle them with brown sugar, and roast them in the oven until all of their liquid evaporates and they start to pick up some color. This helps concentrate their flavor as well as get rid of some of the excess liquid that would otherwise make the soup watery. If this step seems fussy to you, trust me: It really does make a huge difference.

Once the tomatoes are roasted, you’ll add them to the pot along with shallots, tomato paste, vegetable stock, and the reserved canned tomato liquid. Let the tomatoes cook for just a few minutes in the liquid before puréeing, then finish the soup with cream. The two-step cooking process elevates the soup and makes it worlds better than any other tomato soup I’ve had.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

If You Make Smitten Kitchen’s Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese, a Few Tips

Before you head into the kitchen to make this soup, keep these tips in mind.

1. Use high-quality canned tomatoes. This is definitely one of those recipes worth splurging on high-quality canned tomatoes for. I like San Marzano tomatoes because they’re bright, rich, and just sweet enough to balance out the savoriness of the soup.

2. Use double the amount of tomato paste for a stronger tomato flavor. The recipe calls for one tablespoon of tomato paste, but I typically use two or three to amp up the tomato flavor.

3. Don’t be afraid of salt. This soup needs a good bit of salt to bring out its flavor, so don’t be afraid to add a generous amount. A heaping teaspoon always seems to be about right.

4. Thin it out with additional vegetable stock at the end. I’m not the biggest fan of thick soups, so I usually add about half a cup of additional vegetable stock while blending to thin it out.

Get the recipe: Classic Grilled Cheese + Cream of Tomato Soup by Smitten Kitchen

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.