I’m not a lunch person – anyone who works with me will tell you they never see me sit down to a bowl of leftovers from last nights dinner or a hearty sandwich. Not because I’m not organised, it’s because I don’t have leftovers and I don’t like sandwiches. I do like soup though and I don’t seem to eat enough of it.
So this year I’ve decided to make some big batches of my favourite 5 soups and bottle them in jars that I can take to work with me to reheat on the stove. Now is the time to do it while all the produce is plentiful but there are roughly 250 working lunch days in a year and I don’t have that many jars. I also don’t think they’d be my favourites for long if I ate them every day.
A more doable target is 100 soup lunches, 2 serves to a jar, that makes 50 jars. The plan is 5 flavours, 10 jars of each and some extras for sharing because someone else fancies soup too. I’m starting with my old friend tomato soup. You know a recipe is going to be good when it starts with … take 12 lbs of tomatoes …This recipe is one I grew up with. My Mum got it from her friend June Neilson and it was a late summer ritual in our house to bottle tomato soup.
The other reason I’m starting with this recipe is because I know I can bottle it safely using my trusty old overflow preserving method. It’s got enough acid and sugar in it to prevent it spoiling in the jar. If you’re not a confident preserver you can always freeze it.
- 12lbs of tomatoes
- 3 onions
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 pint of hot water
- 1 tablespoon of common salt (that is non-iodised)
- 4 or 5 bay leaves
- 3 stalks of celery
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground pepper
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- handful of parsley sprigs
- I also add a handful of thyme leaves and a good dollop of smoked paprika
This is the bit I love – boil all together until cooked – no chopping or fussing – just put it in a pot and boil it, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick on the bottom. When it’s well cooked put it through a food mouli or collander to remove the skins and bits and put it back in the pot and bring it to the boil. In a separate pot mix 3 tablespoons of flour and 4 tablespoons of butter into a paste and cook it for a couple of minutes. Add the flour and butter mixture to the boiling soup and mix well.
Boil hard for 3 minutes and pour into hot sterilised jars ( I have the jars waiting in a meat dish in the oven on 60C). Fit with perfit seals and screw bands that you’ve had sitting in a pot of boiling water and process as for overflow method or fill to within 1/2 an inch from the top of the jar and process for 10mins in a water bath (refer to your Edmonds book for details of these methods if you’re new to preserving).
This recipe makes 10 pint jars (that’s the small agee jars if you can get your hands on them) of quite concentrated soup. You can water it down with stock or milk if you need to – my Mum will tell you I always liked it neat with cheese puffs. I’ll have to share the cheese puffs recipe with you sometime, they’re made for this soup.
10 jars down, 40 to go – watch this space.
…. here’s an update to this post – to read part 2 of the great soup canning experiment click here.