Fresh Tomato Soup

Fresh Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup with EggGiven that I just did a post on Gazpacho a few weeks ago, a tomato soup recipe may seem redundant. Besides the tomatoes though, this soup couldn’t be more different. Those hot and humid evenings may have only been a couple of weeks ago, but fall seems to have arrived without hesitation here in New York. It’s as if Mother Nature looked at a calendar and scheduled the cooler weather immediately as August ended. These chilly evenings call for soup, and this unpublished fresh tomato soup recipe struck me as the perfect way to use up some of the delicious ripe tomatoes leftover from summer.

The most intriguing part of this recipe is the addition of a raw egg. Cracked directly into the serving bowls, the hot soup cooks the egg just enough so the yolk remains runny. This of course requires the soup to be very hot when served and the serving bowls to be warmed (throw them in the oven for a minute restaurant style or cheat and use the microwave). The runny part of the egg can then be enjoyed with not just the soup, but a large parmesan crouton – the other jewel of this dish. Slices of crusty bread are sautéed in butter until toasted and crunchy, then topped with grated parmesan cheese, and briefly browned under the broiler. Each bowl of soup is then topped with a slice..or two.

It seems my grandmother had yet to name this recipe because the faded typewriter written version just reads, “Another Tomato Soup, But Very Good” – the “another” referring to an unpublished recipe for a non-vegetarian or beef tomato soup that she also wrote. I considered coming up with a fancier name that would hint at the unique addition of an egg and the large crusty parmesan croutons. However, those can always be excluded and the basic soup is perfectly satisfying on its own or with good old grilled cheese.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
5-6 large fresh tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 stick butter
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 very fresh eggs

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, salt, sugar, basil, pepper and stock and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

While the soup simmers, prepare the parmesan croutons. Preheat broiler. Heat butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add baguette slices. Saute a few minutes on each side until lightly browned. Remove croutons from heat and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle croutons with cheese. Place under broiler just until cheese melts.

When tomatoes in soup are tender, remove from heat. Blend by using an immersion blender or by transferring soup to a blender, a few cups at a time. Return to pot, check seasoning, and bring to a boil. Return to a simmer until ready to serve.

Heat serving bowls. Crack an egg in each bowl. Ladle soup into bowls, allowing it to “cook” the egg. Top with parmesan crouton.

Serves 6 small bowls or 4 large.

Tomato Soup with Egg






There are few soups that can get away with being cold. As a favorite of this small group, Gazpacho often outshines the others as the most typical cold soup. However, I believe it’s really just an excuse to eat soup on a hot summer day. Since tomato is the star of this famous Spanish specialty, August is the perfect time for a homemade batch. Garden fresh bold red tomatoes are juicy and flavorful, making them the ideal candidate for this simple soup.

This is a combination of two recipes: the Gazpacho recipe from “The Art of Good Cooking” and an unpublished recipe I found titled “Ann Thayer’s Gazpacho.” Each recipe is perfectly fine on its own but I wanted to combine the two as a tribute to the friendship between my grandmother and the late Ann Thayer. Ann was one of the few friends of my grandmother that I knew as a child and consistently visited on trips to NYC before I lived here. She met my grandmother in one of James Beard’s cooking classes and in her words “saw that Paula could cook circles around everyone else in the class” and immediately paired up with her. Although Ann was never apart of the famous “cooking world” of journalists and chefs like Beard, Craig Claiborne, and Andre Soltner that my grandmother often entertained, she was one my grandmother’s closest friends and stood by her side through her sickness and eventual death.

The main difference between the two recipes is the amount of liquid and bread used. The unpublished recipe blends pieces of bread into the base along with the tomatoes and vegetables. I decided to skip the bread because I just don’t think it’s necessary. If your tomatoes are ripe and your vegetables fresh and crisp, they should easily be the focus of this classic farm fresh chilled soup.


1 small cucumber, seeded and diced
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced – see note
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons tarragon wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried marjoram

peeled, seeded, diced cucumber
finely chopped onion
seeded , diced green pepper
garlic seasoned croutons

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into blender and blend until smooth (this may need to be done in batches). Taste for seasoning and correct. Place in refrigerator and chill. Serve as cold as possible with toppings.

Serves 6


Chilled Blueberry Soup

Blueberry Soup

The idea of blueberry soup may sound a little strange. Due to their liquefied savory nature, cold soups often seem like somewhat of a disappointment. If you think about it, other than possibly tomato juice or V8, how often do we consume liquids that are both cold AND savory? With the popularity of cleanses and “green” juices as meal replacements, this may change in the near future (liquid pizza anyone?). However, I believe that this is currently why cold soup is often considered a slightly sad underrated sister to it’s hot counterpart.

I’m not actually a fan of cold soups either, though they are starting to grow on me. Blueberries, however, are a favorite of mine. I eat them obsessively regularly. So when I saw this recipe for blueberry soup in “The Art of Good Cooking,” I was compelled to try it. Apparently, blueberry soups originated in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Hungary, and Poland all have similar versions. This recipe seems closest to the Icelandic or Polish versions though many of them use some kind of starch, and this one does not (nor does it really need it).

My grandmother wrote that this chilled soup is “not a sweet fruit soup, but more like a cold beet borscht.” I actually think it’s pretty sweet, yet tasty. The sour cream (yogurt could be substituted for a healthier version) cuts through the sweetness and combines with the lemon juice to give it a creamy tang. You may be surprised how much you enjoy it. I even made Popsicles out of the leftovers, which we’ve since started calling “soupsicles” – I know, a little strange, but surprisingly refreshing. And how many soups do you know of are so multipurpose-fully delicious?


2 cups water
1 pint blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Combine water, blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon stick in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Transfer soup to a blender (or blend with a hand blender) and puree until smooth. Whisk in sour cream. Chill and serve garnished with sour cream and blueberries.

Serves 6.

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking.”


Avocado Soup

Chilled Avocado Soup

There’s usually no rhyme or reason for how I decide which of my grandmother’s hundreds of recipes to make. This creamy cool soup happened to sound particularly appealing on a recent day when the temperature climbed to almost 80 and my mind went into summer mode, no matter how hard I tried to reason with it. Summer mode for me usually means consuming a ridiculous amount of ice cream (some of which I can blame on my regular full time job) and pulling out my ice cream maker to tackle some absurdly unhealthy recipe that usually includes chocolate and a combo of too many things that taste good with it. Since it is still too early for summer mode, I managed to convince myself to make something healthier yet equally rich and satisfying. This cold soup does the trick.

The base of this recipe comes from the stack of unpublished Paula Peck recipes I inherited and cherish. These faded typewriter written recipes with handwritten edits, are always the most fun for me to test because the recipes are rough and yet to be finalized. Some, like this avocado soup recipe, have a couple of different versions with varying measurements and instructions. One of these came with a note that said “This is a truly delicious summer soup. My friend Togi told me about it after she tasted it in Mexico.” I find it pretty impressive (and progressive) that my grandmother was making cold avocado soup in the late 1960’s when avocados were still considered somewhat exotic – and not found at every deli or sidewalk produce vendor in NYC like they are today. It’s a very simple recipe and I made only a few minor adjustments like adding scallion, cumin, lemon juice, cayenne, and the garnish of sour cream, corn, and salsa or chopped tomato.


4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
4 1/2 – 5 cups diced ripe avocado
1-1 1/2 cups half and half
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch cayenne
optional garnish: sour cream, cooked corn kernels, and/or pico de gallo salsa

In a heavy pot, melt butter. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon. Cook, constantly stirring, for about 5 minutes (do not brown). Stir in stock. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook just until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and cool.

Place 3 1/2 – 4 cups avocado and scallion in a blender. Add about 1 cup of the stock mixture. Blend until smooth. Add avocado mixture to remaining stock mixture. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Add half and half. Chill.

To serve: pour into bowls and garnish with remaining avocado cubes, sour cream, corn, and salsa (if using).

Serves 4-6.


Stuffed Cabbage Soup

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

I love this soup. With spring ending in the next month or so, I know it’s a little late to be writing about hot soups (cold soups coming soon!) but this unseasonable cold snap we’ve had here in NYC, inspired me. The original title of this recipe from “The Art of Good Cooking” was just “Cabbage Soup,” which doesn’t sound very appealing. After brief review of the ingredients, I realized that with just a few tweaks, this could easily be a deconstructed stuffed cabbage soup. Change the beef brisket to ground beef (cheaper and easier), add rice, and this is one delicious soup. If you don’t like cabbage, you will still like this soup and you’ll be surprised at how unrecognizable the cabbage is. However, if you don’t like sauerkraut, you may not have as much luck. It adds a subtle pickled tang in the background that I personally love. Maybe I’m biased because at one point in my life I liked stuffed cabbage so much I bought the Lean Cuisine version regularly (sad but true). However, as a quick one pot weeknight meal that’s fairly healthy, this has become one of my favorite soups.


1.5 lb ground beef
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 1/2 quarts stock or water
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 a cabbage (about 2.5 lbs), coarsely chopped, core removed
1/2 cup sauerkraut washed in cold water and squeezed dry
1/2 cup white conventional rice
salt and pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
sour cream

Heat a deep soup pot over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil. Add ground beef and brown, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces, about 3-4 minutes. Remove meat from heat and set aside.

Drain all but about a tablespoon of fat from the soup pot. Heat over medium and add onion and garlic. Saute until onions are almost translucent. Add shredded cabbage, sauerkraut, some salt, and pepper. Saute another 3-4 minutes to soften. Add stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add rice. Reduce to a simmer and cook until rice is just barely softened. If using cornstarch, stir a half cup liquid from soup pot into cornstarch. Then stir mixture back into soup. Add lemon juice.

Serve with dollops of sour cream.

Serves 12 to 14.



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