3 large shallots (about 3/4 of a cup)
1 carrot pealed and minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tsp vegetable oil
pinch ground allspice
2 cans (28 oz) whole tomatoes (roma or larger ones) drained and seeded.
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tbs all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of BOTH low sodium chicken and low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup half and half
Once that gristly task was complete, I turned to chopping the shallots--7 of them into teeny tiny pieces. The carrots were easier--the recipe says one carrot, but my carrots were pretty small so I did 3 for my double batch. Looking back I wonder why I chopped them so fine--this is a pureed soup-- it all goes in a blender at the end. But this book is kind of like a drill Sargent--you try to do what it says exactly how it says because through out the recipes is this unshakable belief that they have figured out the best/only way to do it and to venture off is to fail!
Once that was done I discovered the next problem--the tomato paste! I thought I had several cans in the pantry, and I did--only they expired almost three years ago. When I opened one it was black and stinky--disgusting, and unusable. This was sadly after I had already ventured out in the snow, and my sister wasn't answering her phone to see if I could borrow some. So I used the internet and found a recipe for making tomato paste from tomato sauce, which I had. It isn't hard: one can of tomato sauce, a small saucepan, and 7 to 14 minutes of cooking. It took a lot longer than I thought it would to reduce to a paste consistency, and my sister called right after I finished it, with paste I could borrow. I used my homemade paste, since I went to so much effort!
So more than an hour into this soup and I finally get to start cooking! In my large pot I put in some oil, heated it over medium heat, and added the shallots, carrots, and the homemade tomato paste. That cooked until the carrot was soft, and shallots translucent. I added the drained and seeded tomatoes to the pot and the sugar--and cooked until they were dry. Well, that is what the recipe said--but I'm not really clear on what that meant. Lots of stirring later, lots and lots, and I decided it was as dry as it was going to get and added the flour. That cooked for a minute and I added the broths a little at a time, bringing it up to a boil and then reducing to simmer for 10 minutes.
The Verdict: The soup was delicious, though my blender did not get as smooth of a texture as I'm used to--so you could still tell there were carrots in there. It wasn't as strong of a tomato taste as I would have thought--less traditional, and more veggie strong. But the question I ask myself is: Is the amount of effort worth the result? It was popular at work--several staff member said it was their favorite of all the soups I've made. But it took me almost 3 hours to make--my knees hurt so badly after making it that my physical therapist told me I'd need to wear braces if I wanted to make it again (well, really that if I was going to cook all day, I should put my braces on). So if I do make it again, I will be modifying the recipe to be simpler, or I'll try a different tomato soup recipe altogether!