We're having a cool, spring rain; it's drizzly outside and has been for most of the week. The house feels damp. Our five cats are clamoring to go outside; they come up, stare me straight in the face and howl. You'd think they were being chased by mad dogs. If I pretend not see them, they claw at my leg, and the volume of their plaintive cries increases. Somehow they have deemed it my personal responsibility to make the sun shine again so they may frolic and romp in the new green grass and and daffodils. I tell them to see their Sweetie-Pi. Everyone pretends to ignore me.
**sigh** This is not what I had in mind when I wished I were a sun goddess.
I needed something warm and comforting, something that would make me feel pampered. I needed this Flemish Cream of Tomato Soup. Oooh, so smooth and velvety and creamy good. I still love the tomato soup with the familiar red label, don't get me wrong, but this, this is like the difference between lightening and lightening bug.
Cream of Tomato Soup
from Everyone Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook
by Ruth Van Waerebeek with Maria Robbins
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot peeled, shredded
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 to 4 cups chicken broth (two 14.5 oz cans)
3/4 cup light or whipping cream
2 to 4 tablespoons Madeira or Cognac (or more to taste!)
Black pepper, to taste
In a large pot, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is transparent and the carrot is soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, cayenne, and good pinch of salt. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Let this mixture cool slightly and then puree either in a blender, with an immersion blender, food mill, or food processor. Set aside.
Melt the remaining three tablespoons butter in the soup kettle over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly until smooth. Gradually add the broth, stirring constantly with a whisk. Do not be alarmed if you have a floury mass. Continue to stir, stir, stir, adding the broth in increments. Eventually the flour will loosen into a beautiful thick white sauce. Still whisking, allow the sauce to boil up to cook off any floury taste.
Remove the soup from the sauce from the heat. Add the tomato mixture and whisk. At this point you can let the soup sit until just before serving or you can cool and refrigerate and serve the next day.
To serve, reheat the soup, but do not allow it to boil. Stir in the cream and Madeira (Cognac). Taste for seasoning, adjusting to please you.
If the soup needs to be reheated again, be careful not to bring it to a boil, as it does very unpleasant things to the cream!
Cook's Notes: I use more butter than called for, probably twice as much, for the first step.
Really, this soup is excellent without the cream or the alcohol, but I make this using Cognac, because that's what I have on hand. I enjoy the flavor it imparts; a little goes a long ways, so I start with a tablespoon, sample it, to see if I think I'd like to add a bit more. I've never made it with Madeira, but I'll bet that's nice, too.
So, I brought out a beautiful bowl, and served myself two big scoopfuls. I decorated with fresh chive and bits of diced tomato. I take a silken mouthful and look out my kitchen window past the rain, past the gray clouds. I cannot hear the kitty babies pining for sunshine. I am lost in my own reverie with a bowl of elegant cream of tomato soup to sustain me.