The sweetest and most savory scent imaginable would waft up from the kitchen and to my bedroom upstairs—simmering, super sweet celery and rich, warming cloves mixed with the season’s sweetest tomatoes. It only happened for a short while each year, but when it did it was awesome. I cherish those boyhood memories of growing up on my family's farm and living fully in-tune with the seasons.
This afternoon my wife and I made that very same tomato soup and those familiar smells of summer filled our house. It put in mind days long ago when I'd sit at the top of the stairs and take comfort in knowing that my dad had grown a ton of food and my mom was putting it up for winter. Back then making spring was a big deal and there was nothing quite like popping open a jar of August in the middle of winter.
I have shared below my family's recipe, which we have followed for generations. At its most basic it is a bowl of savory vegetables, but to taste it is to experience savory like never before.
Homemade Tomato Soup
(Yields 8 pints )
1/4 bushel ripe tomatoes
7 stalks celery with leaves
1 small hot pepper
2 sweet peppers
2 medium sweet onions
25 whole cloves in a small cloth bag
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup flour
Immerse tomatoes in boiling water for a couple minutes and remove skins. Cut into chunks and mix with cut-up vegetables. (Be sure to remove all pepper seeds). Place in large covered kettle and toss in the bag of cloves. Cook slowly until everything is soft. (The entire house will smell like super yummy soup). Remove from heat and remove the clove bag, then run it all through blender. Dump it all back into that big kettle. Thoroughly mix sugar, salt, and flour and then add to pot. Let it all cook slowly, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens.
The soup is delicious straight from the kettle, but occasionally I cut it 2:3, soup to warm milk.
And if you're planning to put it up for winter, I encourage you to visit USDA's National Center for Home Food Preservation, where you will find everything you need to safely store your soup for those perfect winter nights. Enjoy.