Friday, March 20, 2009

San Marzano Tomato Soup

Many of the chefs on television are known for recommending the use of fresh ingredients over their jarred and bottled counterparts. ReaLemon, jarlic, and the ever popular green shaker parmesan are no-nos in a real chef's kitchen, sayeth the powers that be over at the Food Network. I do try to follow their recommendations for the most part, so when I kept seeing recipes that called for San Marzano tomatoes, I began searching for them at my local grocery stores. I erroneously thought that San Marzano was a brand name however, like Campbells or Hunts, and I was unsuccessful at finding them. After researching these canned tomatoes on the internet, I discovered that San Marzano tomatoes are a specific variety of plum tomato grown in Italy. The volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius is supposedly conducive to the growing of these sweeter and less acidic tomatoes. Now that I knew what I was looking for, I started searching in earnest, and I finally located them at a Meijer store in Indianapolis. Once I got past the sticker shock (a 28 oz can cost me over $5.00!) I brought the treasured can home and started thinking about how I was going to use them. Obviously I wanted to use them in a recipe where tomatoes were the star ingredient and that's how this tomato soup recipe came to be.

San Marzano Tomato Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery (with leaves) diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 (28 oz) can of whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
2 (14 1/2 oz) cans of Muir Glen crushed fire roasted tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup whole grain brown rice
6 oz. 2% Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 cups half and half (I used fat-free)

In soup pot saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic (seasoned with salt and pepper) in olive oil until onion is softened, approximately 5 minutes. Add in tomatoes, chicken broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for around 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. Remove bay leaf. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree to a smooth consistency. Return soup to pot, bring back to a boil and add rice. Reduce heat, cover and cook until rice is tender (per the directions of whatever type of rice you're using.) Remove from heat and add in cheese cubes. Stir until cheese is melted completely and soup is smooth. Stir in half and half.


noble pig said...

I do believe the brand of crushed tomatoes to make a real difference in the recipe. I buy Muir Glen Organic and they are about $4.69 for 28 oz. But they are so good.

This soup looks wonderful.

Mags said...

Thanks for stopping by noble pig! (I just LOVE your blog, btw)

biz319 said...

While I hate sliced tomatoes, I love tomato soup!

Thanks for sharing!

Mags said...

You're welcome biz319. And thank you for commenting!

Propagatrix said...

San Marzanos are easy and very rewarding to grow. Last year I put in four plants. This year I'm putting in twelve. Wonderful for soup, sauces, and pizza.

Mags said...

Propagatrix, I was always under the assumption that true San Marzanos had to be grown in that one special place in Italy. I know that there are many San Marzano "style" tomatoes out there as well, and if I ever come across those plants, I'm going to buy the heck out of them. Could you send me pictures of yours when they're ripe this summer?

Thanks for commenting!

Liz said...

i liked the way that this recipe was going until i read "velveeta cheese." why spend $5 a can on tomatoes and then use processed cheese?

Mags said...

Liz: I know that some people will have nothing to do with Velveeta, but when it comes to melting properties, I still find it the best. To each their own?