Here is the finished product one quart of tomato soup. In this batch, I actually ended up with 8 1/2 quarts. For this batch I started with both sides of my sink full of tomatoes. I washed them and loaded them into the boiling water as you see below. At the end of the processing, when I have a pot as large as you see I add: 1/4 cup of canning salt and 1 cup of sugar. I always start with 1/2 cup of the sugar and add as I go. This is really a taste thing because each set of tomatoes is different in terms of acid. If you check your recipes on tomatoes there is a suggestion on adding lemon juice to prevent spoilage. I admit I am not so good at that, but some places I have read that you need as much as 1 tablespoon per quart. I also add 1 stick of butter or 1/2 cup of canola oil to the soup as it is boiling. This makes a smooth consistency. The trick to good soup is in adding the flour. I add about 1 cup, but I have learned to add it to about two cups that I pull out of the pot and put into the blender and I divide the flour into 3 equal parts and do it three times in the blender. It is not easy as there are times I have jammed the blender, but it comes out much smoother than when you try to whisk it straight into the pot. No lumps with the blender method. If you hit this correctly, the soup comes out just like the stuff you buy in the cans. On this batch I forgot, but last year, I added fresh basil to the boiling pot, and the flavor was the best. My actual recipe calls for pureed onions and celery, but we are not fans of that so I never use it. My best advice is take some out into a small boil as you are going and taste it. You will know when it is flavored to your liking.
I used to just boil this for 30-45 minutes then pour into jars and call it good. I have learned that it needs to be processed. If you do not process it as was the case with that 1/2 jar I ended up with, eat it immediately or refrigerate until you are able, hopefully within the next few days. And, homemade soup is always best when served with a few chunks of whole tomatoes and a little milk in it. Oh so yummy!!
The picture on the left shows the tomatoes boiling in the pot. I have saved my old heavier pots for this process. The picture on the right is one you don’t usually see or read about. This is where you take any pan you can find and put the hot tomatoes in them to cool. Mostly the recipes say you should dip the tomatoes into cold water to cool them off. I have never tried that because I am a germ freak and so afraid that they will be contaminated by something in the cold water. Instead, I let them cool naturally. It is also part of my issue with trying to do the entire table’s worth of tomatoes at one time. This way, I can boil two kettles at one time alternating filling and emptying them and still keep up with the whole process while I am alone. I have the table full of cooling tomatoes and the counter is filled with the processing set up.
As I remove the peelings and the core from the cooled tomatoes, I drop them into the blender. When it is filled as seen, I blend it up and pour it into the strainer. A few cranks later and the puree fills the bowl below. The pot on the stove holds about 10 quarts when filled, and is the same one that I spoke of using in the last jelly post. I have several of these pots, but this is a heavier one and doesn’t burn quite as easily. It seems that as soon as you add the sugar to the pots, you have to be extra careful about them burning on the bottom. Lately, I have waited to start heating the pot until nearly finished with the other part of the processing.