Or is it soupe aux tomates ? Either way, it's good, and 'tis the season. The tomatoes keep coming, and we're noticing around the Saint-Aignan area all the gardeners have dozens or scores of big, plump red tomatoes hanging from the plants in their jardins potagers.
This weekend, we decided to make tomato soup. Walt started the process by making a good broth using a pintade (Guinea fowl) carcass that we had in the freezer, with onions, garlic, cayenne peppers, parsley stems, and spices.
When you start with a flavorful broth like that, be it poultry or vegetable broth, making tomato soup is pretty easy. All you need is a lot of tomatoes (even ones out of a can would do the job) and some kind of thickening agent. Potatoes are one choice — cook chopped potatoes and chopped tomatoes together in the broth and then puree everything, using a sieve, a food mill (un moulin à légumes), or a blender. I like to use a food mill.
I didn't have any potatoes of the kind you would use to make soupe or potage (baking potatoes, we call them) so I decided to thicken the tomato soup by making a roux with flour and butter. Here's the recipe:
6 cups chopped tomato
3 cups poultry or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. salt (or more to taste)
3 tsp. sugar (to taste)
Boil the chopped tomatoes in the broth for 20 minutes. When the tomatoes are cooked, let them cool slightly and then puree the mixture. Using a sieve or a food mill has the advantage of straining our the seeds and skins of the cooked tomatoes, but you can also use a blender or stick blender.
Melt the butter in a big pot. When it's bubbly and even beginning to turn golden brown, add the flour and stir it into the melted butter. Let it cook for two or three minutes to make a light brown roux, which will give good flavor.
Add a cup of so of the pureed tomato to the pot and stir well to make a thick paste with no lumps. Then continue adding the pureed tomato, stirring with a whisk until you have a smooth, velvety soup. Season with salt to taste, and optionally add the sugar, also to taste. Serve hot, with or without croutons, cream, or grated cheese.