9 - Cold Tomato Soup

An early favorite. A regular during the Somerville years, until I learned the wonders of gazpacho.

Way before either of these joined the repertory, Campbell's Tomato Soup was an enduring staple from my childhood. As kids, we must have eaten it several days a week for lunch--accompanied by peanut butter and jelly or baloney sandwiches on Wonder Bread.

My father, who never stepped into the kitchen, told a story, perhaps apocryphal, from the early years of their marriage that revolved around his discovery that my mother did not make this very soup from scratch.

Those many years of pleasure from canned soup perhaps made it inevitable that I would unquestionably welcome canned tomato juice as an ingredient in anything. The New York Times cookbook, my first cooking bible, had two recipes for cold tomato soup. According to Craig Claiborne, "There are thousands of versions of cold tomato soup. Few of them are more delicious than the two which follow.” I went straight for Cold Tomato Soup II, as Cold Tomato Soup I contained tapioca, which just seemed too weird.

That Cold Tomato Soup II was an instant hit on those terribly hot, humid summer days when cooking was impossible. I followed the instructions religiously—though I suspect I used an entire large can of tomato juice--rather than the 3 cups in the recipe, and a whole can of tomato paste as well.

Here it is:

Mix 3 cups tomato juice, with 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 4 minced scallions, salt to taste, a pinch of powdered thyme, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, freshly ground black pepper, grated rind of 1/2 lemon, two tablespoons lemon juice, and sugar to taste. Chill for a few hours.

Before serving blend in 1 cup sour cream and sprinkle each bowl with chopped parsley.

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