As the season of summer came to a close, I found myself in possession of an abundance of fresh tomatoes. A neighbor, who grows them every year, seemed to have tomatoes everywhere when it came to the final harvest. The plants had been steadily producing since July, and were still going strong into September. Some of the tomatoes were picture-perfect, while others showed signs of distress. Regardless of how they looked, they all tasted great!
I kept the blemished tomatoes aside for a cooking project and started looking through my cookbooks. I happened to pull a cookbook by Dinah Shore from the shelf, and discovered a wonderful recipe for tomato soup! I recalled watching Dinah Shore’s talk show as a child and seeing her cook with her Hollywood celebrity friends. She loved cooking, and authored a couple of cookbooks over the years.
This provided a great opportunity to dig out some of our Dinah Shore albums and put those tomatoes to good use! We enjoyed both the soup and wonderfully warm sound of Dinah’s voice!
Tomato Soup a la Dinah Shore
6-8 large tomatoes
3 small potatoes – sliced thin
1 medium onion - finely diced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
3 cups half & half (or whole milk)
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper - to taste
In a large pot of simmering water, gently lower tomatoes and leave them in the water until you see a split in the skins. If you have thick skinned tomatoes, cut a small “x” shaped slit in the bottom of the tomato before putting it in the water. It should take a couple of minutes in the hot water for the skins to get loose. In the meantime, prepare a large bowl with ice water. When the tomatoes are ready, transfer them to the ice water and let them cool for a couple of minutes. You should be able to slip the skins off the tomatoes by hand, or you may choose to scrape them off with a paring knife. Be sure to cut the stem core out of the tomatoes when peeling.
Place peeled and cored tomatoes in a large empty pot and mash (I use a potato masher for this job). The tomatoes will release a lot of liquid. Add potatoes, onions, basil, salt, pepper and bay leaves and cover pot. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes become soft (25-30 minutes).
Remove from heat and remove bay leaves. Transfer mixture to blender in small batches. NEVER fill a blender to the top with hot contents! Puree all of the mixture until smooth and transfer to a bowl.
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and then add flour. Stir well until the flour is incorporated into butter and a roux is formed. Cook for just a minute until lightly golden in color. Slowly add in two cups of half & half, stirring with a whisk until all lumps are dissolved. Keep whisking until mixture comes up to a boil and then reduce heat. It will thicken as it begins to boil. Add tomato mixture to the thickened half & half mixture. Gently stir to combine. Add one more cup of half & half to thin the soup out a little bit. Add sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Enjoy!