by Stephanie Wharton
My mom has been making this soup for as long as I can remember. And through the years, has perfected this recipe. This is a great summer recipe for those looking to use up an end-of-season tomato harvest or farmer’s market supply. But this can also be made during the fall and winter months with the purchase of some extra tomatoes. This is a large recipe and will feed you and your family for many meals. So I’ve included a safe way to store the tomato soup long-term so you can cook once and enjoy many times!
1 peck* fresh tomatoes (sliced or chopped with core and stem removed)
1 large bunch celery (chopped with 1 stalk divided from the rest)
6 cloves garlic (chopped)
3-4 medium green bell peppers (chopped)
8 medium white onions (chopped)
¼ cup avocado or olive oil
1 large bunch fresh basil (roughly chopped)
1 tsp. salt plus more for finishing
½ tsp. pepper plus more for finishing
1 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper powder
6 oz. can tomato paste (added after cooking)
1 tbsp. sugar (optional)
½ cup half & half or cream (optional)
*A peck is roughly 2 gallons or 8 quarts.
In an extra large stockpot, sauté the 1 stalk of celery (removed from the larger bunch), garlic, peppers, and onions in the avocado oil over medium heat. Add salt and pepper and cook until soft and fragrant (about 10 minutes).
Add the tomatoes, the rest of the celery, and the basil to the stockpot. Add additional salt and pepper, if desired, plus the garlic powder and the cayenne pepper powder.
Bring to a boil then simmer for 3 hours.
Allow to cool then transfer in batches to a blender. Or use an immersion blender. Blend until smooth.
Depending on the tomatoes, there could be a lot of seeds in the soup. If this is the case, use a fine mesh sieve or colander to strain the blended mix into another large pot. If seeds don’t bother you or you don’t see many, feel free to skip this step.
Stir in the tomato paste. If the soup has cooled to the point it will be difficult to mix the tomato paste in, you may have to add low heat.
Since some tomatoes are more bitter than others, taste the soup and if needed, add 1 tbsp. sugar. For a creamy tomato soup, add in the half & half or cream to the finish.
Enjoy immediately and prep the rest for later.
Depending on how much you keep out to eat, you’ll have anywhere from 4-6 quarts to freeze for later.
Using quart-size freezer bags, pour soup into bags and freeze upright. Liquid expands as it freezes so leave a small amount of space in the bag before sealing to account for this.
When ready to eat, simply remove soup from freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature. Warm on stovetop as usual and enjoy!
A note about canning tomato soup:
Unless you have taken time to measure the acidity level (also taking into consideration the tomato:vegetable ratio) and have avoided adding any cream to the mixture, avoid canning. You can learn more about canning tomato soup at The National Center for Home Food Preservation.