Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Homemade Canned Tomato Soup

October is my favorite time of year to can. The house can be chilly, so the canning heat is welcome.  The children are at school and while I would probably get them to help me otherwise, it's also so luxurious to focus solely on my project in a quiet house by myself.

Plus, the farmers have lots of produce yet and no one else seems to want it, so they practically give it to me.  See this sinkful of organic, local, seconds tomatoes?  I had to convince the farmer to take $2 for them.  He wanted to give them to me.  In August, I would pay $10 or more for tomatoes like these!

I decided I didn't have enough tomato soup or ketchup to get through until next fall, so I made a batch of each.  Ketchup recipe is here.  Tomato soup method is below.

 Thrift at Home Canned Tomato Soup

Use 3 parts tomatoes to 1 part onions and 1 part celery.  I usually add a few garlic cloves too.  I usually do at least a dishpan of tomatoes and end up with 9-12 quarts, but this "recipe" is made to work with what you have, so the individual jars are seasoned after the veggies are cooked.

Once the vegetables are assembled, core tomatoes (no need to peel - big time saver!) and peel onions.  Roughly chop veggies.  Puree in food processor in batches, making sure to mix onions and celery and tomatoes to get a juicy puree.  Pour into stockpot.  Add 2-3 bay leaves.

Bring to boil with lid on.  Remove bay leaves.  Puree again with immersion blender.  Ladle into quart jars, leaving at least an inch of headspace because tomatoes really siphon out during canning.  Add 1 tsp. salt and a scant tablespoon sugar to each jar.  Seal by pressure canning at 10 lbs. pressure for 35 minutes.

To Make Homemade Tomato Soup:

Pour a quart jar of home-canned tomato soup in a saucepan and heat; I do this uncovered to concentrate the soup a bit. Sometimes I add a pinch of dried basil.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce.  I do this in my microwave in a big glass measure.  Place 3 Tbsp. butter in glass measure and heat for 1 minute. Whisk.  Add 3 Tbsp. flour.  Whisk.  Heat again for 1 minute.  Whisk.  Add 2 cups milk.  Whisk.  Heat again for 1 minute.  Repeat the heating and whisking until the white sauce is thick.

Once you have a hot, thick white sauce and hot tomato soup base, slowly pour the tomato base into the white sauce, whisking.  Do not reverse the order and pour the white sauce into the tomatoes!! Return the soup to the saucepan and heat gently if needed, but do not boil.  Taste to adjust salt or add pepper/basil/sugar according to your taste.  Serve hot with grilled cheese or crackers.

It's not recommended to waterbath tomato soup because it is a low-acid food due to the added celery and onions.

You can make the white sauce on the stovetop in the classic way, which involves lots of stirring.  More on the microwave method in this post.   It's a great job for a child.

Microwaves vary.  Mine is old and slow, so adjust times accordingly.

Sometimes I add a minced mushroom or two and some minced onion to the butter when I'm starting to make the white sauce.  Not usually.  I like my tomato soup pretty classically plain.  That's also why I only add a pinch of basil, no more.

I discuss the phenomenon of curdled tomato soup and why you must pour the acid (tomato) into the base (white sauce) in this post. 


Alica said...

You're giving me ideas! I haven't done nearly all the canning and freezing that I'd planned this year when I hurt my back, and it makes me sad! I'm starting to get more energy again, so maybe I could try this. I'm curious...does your pressure scanner have a jiggler or a gage? Mine has a jiggler,and I have trouble keeping the pressure consistent.

Margo said...

Alica, I have this Presto pressure canner:

Once the pressure is rising, I have to find the sweet spot on my burner (gas stove) to keep the pressure at the spot where I want it. I check it occasionally, but it's usually not too hard.

Hope you can get some canning in yet!

sillygirl said...

I have been doing a variation on my tomato soup - adding basil that I chopped and mixed with olive oil and put in the freezer and swirling in blue cheese before serving. There are lots of changes to tomato soup to make it different each time and yet bring back the memory of summer.

Margo said...

oh! This is a tasty-sounding variation, sillygirl! My basil is gone now, but I do have frozen pesto lumps. . .

jenny_o said...

I've made peace with the fact that I don't like to can, and that I can't eat acidic foods like tomato soup, but I still love your canning and food posts! Everything always looks so delicious :)

sillygirl said...

Pesto lumps sound good!