Saturday, March 14, 2015

Great Tomato Products and a Family Owned Business! Recipe: Cream of Tomato Soup

Repack Whole Tomatoes

As anyone who's been reading these posts know I am continually promoting cooking and eating local, well raised, chemical free products.  And you've also seen often my support for family owned small farms and other businesses vs. big agriculture and factory farming.  I am very happy to present for your consideration one of those family businesses.

A little bit of background is in order. We "put up"/can tomatoes every Fall.  We make a lot of red gravy - as it's called in our neighborhood - as well as soups, and other dishes using flavorful tomatoes.  To supplement our larder, we have been buying canned tomatoes and paste from Italy.  Nothing wrong with them; they are fine tomatoes, but I have recently been introduced to great tomato products from a family owned and operated business just a few states over from my own - Red Gold.

Selita Reichart is the matriarch of the Red Gold company.  The company was founded in 1942. Selita  and her husband are the third generation owners of Red Gold and their two sons are being groomed to take over as the fourth generation.   The company's employee created mission statement is:  "To produce the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world".

I have had the pleasure over the past few months to try Red Gold's products in a number of my favorite tomato based recipes and I am definitely going to be using them - as opposed to the imported tomato products - from now on.  I made red gravy, stewed tomatoes, chicken cacciatore, and cream of tomato soup (see recipe below) and I am very happy to recommend the Red Gold line of products.  The consumer brands from Red Gold include:  Red Gold, Redpak, Tuttorosso; and Sacramento.  For those of us on the east coast Tuttorosso and Redpak are very easy to find.  Their website is worth visiting, as well.  It is well maintained, friendly, interactive, and includes lots of recipes.  Check it out:  www.redgold.com, and please give the Red Gold products a try; I know that you will enjoy the tomatoes as much as you will enjoy supporting a family owned business!

Ready for Grilled Cheese!

Recipe:  Cream of Tomato Soup (Better than the red and white can!)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
Kosher Salt
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, but it doesn't really impart "heat" as much as pick up the flavor)
1 Lg. can (28 ounces) of Redpak whole tomatoes, in their juices
1 1/2 cups of low salt chicken stock
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional garnishes:  basil leaves, thyme, grated parmesan cheese

Technique

Over medium low heat, melt the butter with the olive oil in a medium saucepan
Add the diced onions and a large pinch of salt
Cook - and stir occasionally - until the onions soften, about 15 minutes (don't brown the onions)
Add the minced garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for 5 - 7 minutes more, stir occasionally

Increase the heat to medium and add the can of whole tomatoes and their juices to the pan.  (TIP:  I use kitchen shears to chop the tomatoes a bit while they are still in the can - it gives you a bit of a head start on getting the tomatoes to break down. )
Crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon as you stir them around a bit.
Cook until the tomatoes are hot and are beginning to soften; about 10 - 15 minutes
Add the chicken stock to the pan, stir, and bring the mixture to a simmer
Cook at a medium simmer (not a boil) until the tomatoes are beginning to fall apart; about 15 minutes

Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly - for about 10 minutes
Using an immersion blender, puree' the soup until smooth. You can also blend the soup in batches in a blender, just be very careful - the liquid will still be hot.

(NOTE: some folks like a bit of a chunk, which is fine, but I like the soup to be as smooth as I can get it.  Memories of the red and white can!)

Return the pureed soup to low heat and gradually stir in the cream.  Add freshly ground black pepper and taste to adjust the seasonings.   Serve with your garnish of choice.  (NOTE:  I never use any garnish; I usually have this with a basic grilled cheese sandwich, which I occasionally dip into the soup.  Just like my Grannie used to make it for me!)

Enjoy!









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