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Feb 16, 2010 12:46 PM

Trying to duplicate THE BEST tomato soup I've ever eaten!

My husband and I had dinner the other night (Valentine's Day) at a great little Polish restaurant in L.A. , almost in Eagle Rock. The meal was great, but especially good and quite unexpected was the bowl of delicious tomato soup that came beforehand. I don't usually like tomato soup all that much. Coincidentally, I had just had this not-liking-tomato soup-conversation with my husband a few nights prior. To me it often tastes like pasta sauce or it has too much of that tomatoe-y tang (sort of a sharpness). This was creamy and tomatoe-y without that sharpness. Nothing overly herby either. (Not that I don't like herbs; this particular soup just didn't seem to have that taste in there.) It also had large bow-tie noodles in it. We asked the owner about it and she did say that it included sour cream but she didn't want to share the recipe yet because she was planning on putting out a cookbook with the recipes. I'm thinking it may contain paprika too. In any case, it was delicious and I'm wondering if anyone out there has a recipe for something similar? I'm also hoping that I can use canned tomatoes since tomatoes from the market this time of year are especially awful. Thanks in advance!

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    1. re: ChristinaMason

      Christina, the third recipe in the list sounds very promising. I'll have to give it a try. I'm wondering though if I was just imagining the paprika... does anyone know if paprika is regularly used in Polish cooking?

      1. re: schmoopy

        Yes, paprika is definitely used in Polish cooking. My friend's polish grandmother was an amazing cook--her soups and stews, with paprika, were outstanding.

        But I've also found roasting tomatoes, even the canned ones, adds a wonderful dimension to tomato soup.

        And sour cream--well, it improves most anything :)

    2. I wonder if it was roasted tomatoes, I made one just playing around with roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil - then blended it with either sour cream or light cream and chix stock (if I remember correctly) and to be honest, it was fantastic - I think I might have added some parm too at the end.

      I have found roasted "whatever" soup is always very good.

      I know that Ina was recently on that show "the best I ever had...." and her's was a creamy tomato soup (and grilled cheese sand) and the place put nice chunks of bread in it too. I think they might have shared the recipe on Foodnetwork but the show was actually about cheese I believe.

      good luck

      1 Reply
      1. re: lexpatti

        Thanks lexpatti! I saw that show too and I do remember that soup that Ina loved. It looked delicious. To me it looked to be more in the vein of a good Italian tomato soup. You may be right though about the roasting part... that would definitely add a depth of flavor and may be something that I'll have to try.

      2. This recipe isn't Polish, but it makes a delicious pot of tomato soup that is smooth and not too tangy. You could easily add noodles and sub sour cream for some of the cream.

        For a giant pot (approx. 10-12 full-sized portions):

        -4 cans whole tomatoes, juices reserved
        -2 Tbsp. brown sugar (or raw sugar)
        -4-5 large shallots
        -1 small onion
        -4 Tbsp. butter
        -2 Tbsp. tomato paste
        -scant 1/2 tsp. allspice
        -2 Tbsp. flour
        -4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
        -1 tsp. fresh thyme
        -a few shakes garlic powder
        -lots of salt and pepper
        -dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
        -dash of cayenne (optional)
        -1 c. whipping cream
        -4 Tbsp. sherry

        Seed the tomatoes, reserving the juice they're packed in. Spread them on 2 lightly oiled baking sheets and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and a little salt. Roast in center of oven @ 425F(220C) for 25-30 min. They're ready when liquid is gone and tomatoes are darker and slightly colored on the edges. Set aside to cool.

        In a huge pot, combine 4-5 large chopped shallots and one small chopped onion with 4 Tbsp. butter. Add 2 Tbsp. of tomato paste and 2 pinches of allspice, cover, and reduce heat to sweat shallots & onions for 10 min. Then add 2 Tbsp. flour to shallots and onions, stir with a wooden spoon and cook 1 min. Stir in 4 cups chicken/vegetable broth and all the reserved tomato juice, the roasted tomatoes, 1 tsp. fresh thyme, garlic powder, Worcestershire and cayenne. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 min. Either puree with an immersion blender or strain the solids and puree separately in a blender until smooth.

        Stir in 1 c. cream and heat through. Off heat, stir in 4 Tbsp. sherry. Adjust seasoning w/ salt and pepper and more sugar to taste.

        7 Replies
        1. re: ChristinaMason

          Your recipe sounds excellent!! (and similar to ATK's -they use cognac to finish....) One of the BEST tom. soups i've ever had. I dont bother seeding them. I use a foodmill and then a stick blender @ the end. adam

          1. re: adamshoe

            Adamshoe, I'm pretty sure the recipe I posted is based on one you (or another hound) paraphrased for me a while ago. I made a few minor changes and it turned out really well!

            1. re: ChristinaMason

              Methinks you're right....and as to the OP's polish's called Polka and it is in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of greater El Lay. Ate there last month on a visit to SoCal and it was dee-lish!! We had a different soup when we ate there, but the staff and the food were top notch! Their goulash and pierogies and stuffed cabbage (gawumpkes?....) hit the spot. adam

              1. re: adamshoe

                Adamshoe, what kind of soup did you have? And I agree, the owner and the staff were great. It was Valentine's Day evening and we came in without a reservation. She was so polite but also very accommodating. She said there were a few other couples ahead of us but that it shouldn't be longer than 30 minutes or so. We decided to wait since we didn't have reservations anywhere else anyway and we were just passing through on our way home to Orange County. We got a table right by the front door and we watched as one couple after another came in asking if they had a table... she was always polite, professional, and very accommodating. Kind, really. Here were all these people (including us) who came to a restaurant at 6:30 pm on a Valentine's Day evening without reservations and she tried to fit everyone in. It was a really great experience.

          2. re: ChristinaMason

            Thank you for posting your recipe. It looks amazing! I really like the idea of roasting the tomatoes first.

            1. re: ChristinaMason

              Christina, I just made this tonight and it was soooo good. Thanks for posting!

            2. I would like to add that if you are going to use canned tomatoes that it makes all the difference if you use San Marzano Italian tomatoes, any brand (I love Cento). I caramelize them in a Dutch oven on the stove rather than roast them, you can smell when they've changed. Good luck!

              5 Replies
              1. re: runwestierun

                I'm glad you recommended the right kind of canned tomatoes to use. I never know which ones are best. Someone once recommended the Trader Joe's canned tomatoes (I don't know if they have more than one type) to me. She said she couldn't believe what a difference they made in her pasta sauce. I'll check out the San Marzano Italian tomatoes... thanks!

                1. re: schmoopy

                  Just a note, the above soup is good even without San Marzanos, although I'm sure they take it to another level. I used cheap European generics, and it turned out really well.

                  Be sure to get plain whole tomatoes, not anything flavored or seasoned.

                  p.s. it's worth it to make your own broth here, if you can!

                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                    I know what you mean about homemade broth... such a difference! I'll definitely do that. ;-)

                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                      Christina I just made your soup tonight. It is just wonderful! The roasting makes a massive difference. I was terrified to season it when I was finished as it tasted so nice already :)

                      1. re: rosie77

                        Thanks! I am pretty sure I got the base recipe from adamshoe, above.

                2. Hey --

                  I also was converted from a tomato-soup hater to a tomato soup liker, and what I discovered made a big difference was the addition of carrots that are later pureed in. You don't need a lot of them, but I find they cut the acidity with a little sweetness, while giving the soup some earthiness too. I add about two carrots to a normal-sized batch of soup, maybe a third for a really big batch...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fearlessemily

                    soooo true, I add a cup - 2 of finely shredded carrots to my mother-in-law's fantastic spaghetti sauce (her recipe called for several big carrots, then after the all day simmer you pull them out).