Last week, Aunt Freesia Butler got word to us she was coming for a visit. So we knew cold weather was headed our way. There’s nothing like Homemade Soup to chase the chill, warm up house and home and make a body feel a little bit better about life in general…especially when icicles have formed as far south as the Alabama Beaches! I’ve dubbed this soup- Southern Tomato Soup because, well…it starts off with frying up some Bacon. We Southerners tend to think a bit of Pork makes everything taste better in one way or another. Salt Pork, Ham, Lard, Sausage and Bacon are always in the house.
And, Southern Tomato Soup takes advantage of another pantry staple- a favorite of Southern cooks and Fine Chefs- Canned Tomatoes. Forgive me for going off on a little tangent here and say- Fresh Vine Ripened Tomatoes are the height of most Southern Recipes…and I’ve said it before but it bears repeating- ‘The closer you live to a tomato vine the better your life will be..‘ Though you know and I know what a short growing season Tomatoes have. So we put up tomatoes in the pantry or freezer as fast as we can- yet generally even our summer efforts aren’t enough to get us through a cold hard winter! So, we buy Canned Tomatoes and we’re not one bit ashamed of it. Now, truth be told- making Homemade Chicken Stock is one of the cook’s most satisfying activities- at least here at the Cottage, it’s made often, though homemade stock is used so often, it’s hard to keep enough of it around. Buying a few decent cans of Chicken Broth or Stock can go a long way in the Winter Pantry- please buy good quality canned goods, it does make a difference.
Another ingredient in Southern Tomato Soup is Sweet Yellow Onions…we simply can’t get Vidalia Onions from Georgia all year round- though we do tend to favor yellow onions over the stronger white onions. There you have it- Bacon, Tomatoes, Chicken Broth and Sweet Onion are all you really need to make up a decent Southern Tomato Soup! Mid Century Moderns like myself- grew up eating that ketchup consistency canned tomato soup and it almost always was eaten with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. If you have a bit of Cheese in the house- Southern Tomato Soup will love you for it. And you will love how fast and easy it is to make a satisfying homemade soup before Aunt Freesia Butler knocks on your door! Here’s how you make:
Camellia’s Southern Tomato Soup
- Fry 3 pieces of Bacon in the bottom of a large saucepan over medium high heat. Remove Bacon and Drain. Reduce heat slightly.
- Take one medium thinly sliced Yellow Onion, sauté in Bacon Drippings until translucent. Add 1 small chopped garlic, sauté gently.
- Carefully pour two 14.5 oz. cans of Diced Tomatoes into onion and garlic. Add one 14.5 oz. can of Chicken Stock, stirring to blend.
- Add 1 Teaspoon of Dried Basil, 1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Cayenne Pepper or 1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes (or like me do both!) Add Kosher Salt and fresh Cracked Pepper to taste. Stir.
- Heat the chunky mixture thoroughly to a gentle bubble for 10-15 minutes. Stirring occasionally until hot and fragrant.
- *A tablespoon or two of white wine or Half and Half can be added to enrich the soup but is not necessary.
- Ladle into soup bowls- top with Finely Grated Cheese (Cheddar, Mozzarella, Swiss or Fontina Cheeses are wonderful- *whatever you have on hand works.)
- Top with a generous amount of coarse chopped Bacon. Serve!
Now the truth is- this is a rustic soup which can be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd. Southern Tomato Soup also gets better, so you can make up a quick batch, refrigerate and reheat later, I certainly did. It’s great served with my favorite Oyster Crackers, Thin Sliced Bread spread with Garlic Butter and Toasted for Croutons and since this one is dubbed a Southern Soup you know I’m gonna say it’s just wonderful with Cornbread! And while I’m thinking of it- one of those Grilled Cheese Sandwiches would be great too! Stay warm this week!
Love y’all, Camellia