Favorite homemade tomato soup.

The soup repertoire is officially on deck. And the whimsical firepit with stars carved into the side by our friend Paul is prepped with twigs and sticks gathered from the fried flower beds.  Yes, we are expectantly awaiting for autumn to arrive.  Somehow, I believe that the constant simmering of my favorite tomato soup will make it so.

I have a theory about cooking.  One can tell a great recipe by simply examining the recipe card.  Not the words or ingredients, but the card itself.  Is it stained?  Yellowed?  Full of splatters and smeared handwriting?  If so, then yes, this is a beloved recipe, most likely one that has been touched by sticky hands for many generations, or at least for several years in one generation...

I wish I could say this recipe was born from my own culinary genius, but it comes from the famous Napa Valley chef, Michael Chiarello on The Food Network.  Don't you just love his cozy, festive home in Napa?  When we had TV, I would always look forward to his show on Saturday mornings.   Since then, this soup has become a staple.   It's fresh, simple, and if you add meat, quite hearty.


There is something about tomato soup, too, that reminds me of my Italian youth - cauldrons of thick tomato sauce bubbling on the stove for hours on a Sunday afternoon in preparation for Sunday dinner.  Sprinklings of fresh basil and oregano.   Was there ever an Italian-American girl who didn't grow up on meatballs, pasta, and homemade marinara sauce?  It was sacrilegious to buy sauce out of a jar.  Ragu? A cuss word.  Only homemade would suffice.  It's in my genes and always will be.  

I have yet to make this recipe with fresh tomatoes from the back yard, but I am going to try that next summer.  In the meantime, the organic diced tomatoes from Whole Foods will have to do.  Here they are roasting and beginning to caramelize...

While the other veggies are sizzling away, you must stop to inhale one of the sweetest scents known to humankind - yellow onions sautéeing in a pan...

It might look like tomato sauce now, but oh, it's not.  Just wait until it's blended and creamy.

And now, here's the funny thing - of all times I have made this recipe, I have yet to capture an "after" shot of the soup!  I guess I have been too busy carefully ladling it into a rustic pottery bowl and then gobbling up every last spoonful.  You'll just have to try it for yourself!

Homemade Tomato Soup

Recipe by Michael Chiarello


1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh cream, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted chopped canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil and raw cream if you’d like {but the recipe is already so creamy, it doesn't really need it!}  Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth.  Or, let it cool slightly and ladle in batches into a regular blender and puree until smooth.  Make sure you hold the blender top down tight, or it will splatter everywhere...trust me!