September 6th, 2012

Silken Tomato Soup


Sungolds, Black Cherokees, Sweet Millions: these three varieties of cherry tomatoes showed up unannounced in my garden. Volunteers!

Make no mistake, I’ve been thrilled with their appearance, and their profusion of tangy-sweet yellow, orange, and dark red-green fruit.
(no doubt my most successful crop!)

When we haven’t been popping them into our mouths for snacks, I’ve been finding other ways to use them.

Easy–I’ve cut them in half and strewn them over salad greens.

Crafty–I’ve hollowed them out, and piped pesto cream cheese into little tomato cups. (Makes nice, kinda fancy hors d’oeuvres.)

A little different– I slow-cooked a few handfuls with a dab of honey into tomato jam. (tasty with cured meats on a sandwich)


But now, faced with an overwhelming number of them
(don’t they look like candy?)
I’ve surrendered.

The best thing, I decided, would be to toss them into a big pot and turn them into soup.

I know–tomato soup. How mundane is that?


But, wait. Let me tell you, this one surprised me. The taste is so pure, so bright and intensely tomato.
It reveals what a true summer tomato soup can be.

Cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt-n-pepper, a few sprigs of thyme:
There are so few ingredients that it is barely a recipe. More of a technique, really.

The first part is laissez-faire.


Once you toss your little truckload into the soup pot, let it simmer, covered, for thirty minutes, or so. You can practically forget the pot while you tend to other things.

Meanwhile, all the little globes collapse and release their juices.


The second part is where the magic happens: with the food mill.

I discovered that milling twice—once with the coarse grinding disc, once with the fine sieve—is the key to making silken full-bodied soup.


The first pass really crushes the pulp, and removes some of the peel, and few of the seeds.


It’s the second pass through the mill that extracts all the remaining juices, and that intense flavor. I’ve read that the most acidic part of the tomato (which gives its sweetness dimension) is in the gel that surrounds the seeds. In this second pass, you get that essence, and leave the seeds behind.

There’s no added water. There’s no cream, and yet it seems creamy.
It’s All Tomato.

Dress it up, like I have here, with a scoop of arborio rice and diced roasted veggies–a late summer meal in a bowl.
Or enjoy it for its acid-sweet goodness alone…
Or with a grilled cheese?


6 pints assorted Cherry Tomatoes, washed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons fresh Thyme leaves
1 teaspoon Black Pepper

Food Mill

Place all the ingredients into a large heavy duty soup pot on medium heat.
Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Occasionally stir, mashing the tomatoes to release their juices.

Remove from heat.

Set food mill fitted with coarse grinder over a 4 qt. bowl. Run all of cooked tomatoes and juices through it. The mixture will contain a fair amount of seeds and peels. Discard peels and seeds that remain in the mill.

Rinse off the food mill and fit it with a fine grinder. Place it back over the soup pot and churn the tomato mixture through the it.
This time, the soup will be velvet smooth, with scant seeds.

Warm the soup, tasting and adjusting for salt. Makes 4-6 servings.

Serve simply by itself, or make it heartier with the following enhancements:


Diced Roasted Summer Squashes

Sticky Rice–spoon in a mound of arborio, or another favorite short grain rice

Fruity Olive Oil–a zigzag pour over the top

Shredded White Cheddar



Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups/Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian Dishes

22 Responses to “Silken Tomato Soup”
  1. Eileen Says:

    Look at all those tiny tomatoes! EEEEEEE! How could a soup made from them be anything but amazing?

  2. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I just love the purity of this dish, it’s a recipe that would get a big endorsement from Alice Waters. By the way, how did you get tomatoes to appear unannounced?

  3. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Christine,
    The seeds must have been in my compost. Cherry tomatoes, I’ve found out, are practically wild–and will reseed readily.

  4. Kath Says:

    Oh how lovely to have tomatoes springing up instead of weeds. We have had some lovely tomatoes, sungold and gardener’s delight, but many have been affected by blight- ggrrr, rubbish British summer! The soup looks delicious.

  5. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Kath, many of my “regular” tomatoes suffered from blight this year too. that’s why I was especially pleased with these volunteers.

  6. ernestine lawson Says:

    Nancy, this soup sounds wonderful.
    I have many volunteers of these little
    gems also. Did not plant any this year
    they just made a welcome visit.

  7. Maggie Says:

    Just beautiful, Nancy! I can just taste it!

  8. Michele / Cooking At Home Says:

    Gorgeous little jewels. There is nothing mundane about that soup! Tomato is my favorite September soup.

  9. Tammy Says:

    Nancy, I can’t believe that those are all volunteer! So jealous. I love soups and yours looks beautiful. Is there anything that can be done with the strained pulp?

  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tammy, by the time I mill it twice, all that remains is a mass of seeds: to the compost!

  11. Barbara Says:

    Well, I’d say those tomatoes were a fabulous surprise treat! And the soup you made with them is wonderful and pure tomato. Love it!

  12. Beth Says:

    What a wonderful soup! So simple, but so good.

  13. Rach Says:

    The double mill, I love a double mill! I too love/ adore the simplicity of this. Very inspired.

  14. Mary Says:

    You actually made my mouth water tomato soup. I can’t believe it. Awesome description and great tutorial. Now, if someone would just hand ME a truckload of tomatoes!

  15. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    The color of your Silken Tomato Soup is out of this world pretty! I also like your other ideas for using these tiny treats. Goodness gracious, they are coming in by the gallons so now I have some really cool, summery ideas for snacks as well as this wonderful soup recipe. t

  16. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Lovely, Nancy. A new reason for me to consider the purchase of a food mill. I know I’d like diced roasted summer squash as a topping.

  17. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    Wow! I love the title “silken”- now that is good. Perfect name for the perfect soup- ever! It looks amazing

  18. Balvinder Says:

    Oh! Your tomatoes have won my heart and that too home grown. I like the color and silky texture of your soup.

  19. Emily B Says:

    Simply: this looks too good to be true.

    (I know what I’m having for dinner this weekend!)

  20. Faith Says:

    Your little gem-like tomatoes are stunning. I can see why they’d make a soup as delicious as this one is in its simplicity. The real essence of summer bottled in a soup.

  21. Magda | My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    I’m in such a tomato kick since early August and I’m not planning to stop until early October. I’m usually not a fun of tomato soup, it reminds me too much of tomato sauce and in Greece no one eats tomato soups, but I’m loving the look of this. Beautiful, Nancy.

  22. Good Food Matters » Blog Archive » Tomato Towers Says:

    [...] tomatoes, so many ways to enjoy them, and a few glorious weeks to indulge in the bounty. Salsas, soups, panzanellas, pastas, deep dish pies and napoleons…like you, I’m ever on the lookout [...]

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