Thursday, August 8

Natural Tomato Soup

A Healthier Soup Alternative
Tomatoes are ripe on the vine here in Ohio and since I plant my own, I have an abundance!  The smell and taste of a ripe tomato fresh from the garden is one of my favorite summer joys.
But what to do with all those tomatoes can quickly turn into a summer dilemma. 

A few years back,  good friend of my niece Sarah posted a recipe for homemade tomato soup on Facebook.  I changed the recipe after the first year by adding 1 less green bell pepper (over powers the tomatoes) and by adding 1 to 2 extra bay leaves.
I have been making it every summer since. 

It’s a pretty easy process and the soup is delicious, especially in the middle of the winter.

For best results use only fresh produce from your garden or organic produce from a local farm market.  Store purchased produce has no where near the flavor of fresh locally grown, but you probably already know that.

Determining how many tomatoes you need is no easy task.  I have found that I need approximately 12 to 14 pounds of tomatoes to make about 8 pints of soup.  (or one canner load) Or another way to figure it is you need approximately 2 large tomatoes per pint.
I add more tomatoes to mine, making my soup mostly tomatoes with the veggies added for flavor. Adding too many vegetables makes it tastes more like vegetable juice!

 Important Note:  Although tomatoes and tomato products have always been water bathed because they are a high acid food, the newer tomato recipes in the Ball Blue Book have lemon juice added to many tomato products and a few of the recipes are pressure canned.  It's very important to follow the recommended method.

Garden fresh tomatoes are best

This recipe used to add a stick of butter and flour to add flavor and to thicken the soup.  It is no longer recommended and is actually believed to be unsafe to can with flour or corn starch.
In recent years, the National Center for Home Food Preservation has OKed  Clear Jel for thickening pie fillings that are canned.  

I have read that one reason you don't see more recipes developed and tested with Clear Jel as a thickener is that early plans to make it more readily available to the general public fell through. Right now it's very hard to find Clear Jel or it must be ordered online. It seems that organizations like NCHFP don't develop many recipes using products people might have difficulty locating, which makes since but leaves out a whole world of canning. 

Tomato Soup


12 to 14 pounds of tomatoes
3 large onions
2 to 3 green or red bell peppers
3 stalks celery
2 to 3 jalapeƱos
1 bunch parsley
2 to 4 bay leaves
1 quart water
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
½ cup salt
(see Clear Jel notes below)

Chop the tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery

Good home canning practices should always follow strict hygienic steps to reduce food spoiling risks. Make sure to wash everything, wash your hands, wash your work area, STERILIZE everything!

Wash all vegetables and remove rotted or blemished areas.  Chop all vegetables, remove seeds from peppers, quarter tomatoes and place in a large pot or kettle.   Add parsley and bay leaves. 
Add water to keep the vegetables from burning on the bottom.  Cook on low to medium low heat for about 2 hours or until tender. 

Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally 

Remove from heat and cool slightly.  

Run all through a food mill or strainer, getting all the juice and meat out of the mash. 
If you have farm animals, feed the remaining mash to them as a yummy treat.
If you do not have farm animals, put remaining mash in your compost bin or pile.

Run everything through a strainer or food mill.

Return juice to the large pot and heat.  Add sugar.
The soup will thicken more as it cools, or if desired, use a thickener when heating up to serve. 

Let simmer, (do not boil), while getting your canning jars ready.
Fill hot sterilized pint jars with hot soup, leaving a 1 inch head space. 
Wipe rims and attached the 2 piece sterilized lid. 

Canning tomato products or recipes seems to be a very controversial and hot subject. 
And seems you must buy a new Ball Blue Book each year to keep up on what guidelines are correct for tomatoes. 

Pressure canning method:  
The newest version of the Ball Blue Book recommends processing pints of spicy tomato soup for 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. (page 106)

Allow jars to set for 12 to 24 hours without disturbing. Check jars for seals.  Wash the outside of the jars, label then store in a cool dark area or pantry.

This year I make Strawberry Pie Filling  for the first time using Clear Jel.  I am sold.  So this time I made my soup using Clear Jel as a thickener.  I mixed 1 cup of Clear Jel to 2 cups of the tomato soup and whisk until it was smooth.  I then added it to the soup, brought it to a slow boil again, then reduced heat and canned.  
Just as a comparison, the really thick pie fillings pressure can for 30 minutes so I kept the canning time for soup recommended in the Ball Blue Book at 20 minutes. 

To serve the soup, just heat and top with fresh basil or shredded cheese.  Or add a little course ground black pepper, fresh thyme or finely diced green onions. A grilled  cheese sandwich wouldn't hurt either.

To thicken the soup after opening, make a thicken flour and milk broth and add the tomato soup.


Hasn't the summer been wonderful this year? 

“It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts 
while eating a homegrown tomato.”
~Lewis Grizzard

“You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first 
acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, 
those are the moments that define the cook's year. 
I get more excited by that than anything else.”
~Mario Batali


Jennica Haller said...

very well thought out and one of my favorite recipes that you make. :)

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Glad you like it Jenn, One of my favs also.