Look, I don’t even like tomato soup! Especially not the claggy version that comes in tins. This homemade version, however, is the cat’s miaow: it is fresh and full of flavour, and I’d happily slurp it by the bucket-load. This is a recipe from my talented Frugal Grandma so, as you would expect, it is as delightfully inexpensive and simple as it is delicious.
Actually, I had a tough time wheedling this one out of Frugal Grandma. She says that she has made tomato soup like this for the past 60 years, but has never made it exactly the same way twice. We got there in the end.
When I say it is inexpensive, there is a caveat: this recipe depends upon you having a lot of tomatoes to hand. Frugal Grandma grows tomatoes by the glut, as do I. (Incidentally, at the end of the growing season, I still draw upon these 1940s tips to avoid wasting unripened fruit.) Frugal Grandma, overrun by shiny homegrown tomatoes, avoids waste by making this soup in batch.
If you are thinking of growing tomatoes this year but haven’t yet walked the walk, it isn’t too late to do so: at this time of year, the young plants are bustin’ out of their little pots and a lot of the garden centres, shops and front-garden sellers are selling them for pennies.
The other reason why I like this tomato soup recipe is that it uses up what I think of as salad drawer scraps: the odds and ends left to wilt in the bottom of the fridge. This recipe is best made with ripe tomatoes, so if you have a carton of supermarket tomatoes going squishy in there, here’s another good way to use them up. Unless you have a lot of squishy tomatoes, however, you may wish to downsize the quantities below, which fill a large saucepan. (Here is my other favourite way to use up squishy tomatoes.)
Without further ado, here’s the recipe:
The Best Tomato Soup You’ll Ever Make
1 kg ripe tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely grated
Any leftover celery, finely chopped
Chopped garlic cloves, to taste
1/4 tsp dried marjoram or oregano (better still, fresh marjoram/oregano if you have it)
500 ml water
1/2 a small carton of double cream
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried basil)
Any left over pieces of pepper, finely chopped.
1. Chop tomatoes. Don’t bother skinning them: truly, life is too short.
2. Heat a little oil in a large pan, and cook the onion, carrot and celery over a low heat until the onions begin to turn translucent.
3. Add the tomatoes, garlic and marjoram.
4. Cook over a low heat until everything in the pan has softened.
5. Add water, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
6. Blend in batches. Return the soup to the saucepan with basil, salt and pepper and reheat.
7. Add the cream, but be careful not to boil it. Serve.
Frugal Grandma’s Notes:
* Adding the cream: I prefer to let the soup cool, then I add the cream and stir well before pouring the soup into cartons for the freezer.
* I always like to serve tomato soup with a swirl of cream for decoration.
* Very important: add anything you like to this soup. It all adds flavour!
If you have the tomatoes already, the rest of the ingredients amount to less than £1. If you need to buy tomatoes, you can currently pick up 1 kg of cherry tomatoes from Morrisons for around £3. This tomato soup recipe makes enough to fill several bowls, so either way the cost per serving is low. I like to serve Frugal Grandma’s tomato soup with homemade bread: again, the cost is pennies.