Tomato Soup in the Pressure Canner

If there’s a recipe that can get a person over their fear of the pressure canner, I believe it’s this one.

This soup is so tasty that no matter how much of it you make, you will wish you had more.  It’s fairly simple yet bursting with summer flavor, awesome with grilled cheese sandwiches, and is not diluted before serving (though I often whisk in a little cream or milk as it’s heating).

My goal every year is to process enough to be cavalier about opening a jar any old time I want some–which is pretty much every day. It never happens, but I aspire!

The recipe is from the Bible of Food Preservation: Putting Food By, though I make modifications of course.  The first one is to always, always make at least a double, triple, or–in this case–octuple batch.

OK, we’re actually splitting it into two quadruple batches for ease of processing.

“Country Tomato Soup,” as it’s called, uses a peck (8 quarts) of tomatoes, a couple of green peppers, three onions, plus sugar, corn starch, vinegar, and optional salt.  My modifications call for adding celery, a few basil leaves, and a couple cloves of garlic; substituting a sweet red pepper if I have it; and cutting down on the sugar and typically also the cornstarch since I cook down the tomato sauce base, so it’s thicker to start with.

Somewhat sooty fire survivor


Basically, you make a tomato sauce base, then chop onions, peppers, celery and garlic and simmer them in water ’til tender.  Throw in a few basil leaves.  Put that through the food mill and dump into the pot with the sauce, then mix sugar, optional salt, and cornstarch and mix in a little cooled tomato sauce to make a thin paste before drizzling it into the big pot (stirring to prevent clumps).  Bring to a boil, pour in quarts, cap, and process.

Here’s the important thing to remember (a handy rule for any pressure-processed food to which you make modifications): if you add new ingredients to the mix, you always process for the time/pressure of the least acid (longest processed) ingredient.

That means if you add celery to this soup mix (and I really recommend it or else it tastes more like pasta sauce than soup), you have to process for five minutes longer than the original recipe calls for–thirty-five minutes for quarts rather than thirty.

The next quadruple batch is going to be a little darker-colored simply because we’ve got different tomatoes.

I forgot that the second tub of tomatoes is almost all Japanese Trifele Black heirlooms. They’re kind of a mahogany color with green shoulders–but if I remember correctly they end up making a very deep red sauce in the end.  It should be easy to tell which is batch #1 and which is batch #2 once it’s done.

And it should be a little quicker, too, because I prepped all the other vegetable additions for both batches yesterday.

Back to the kitchen!


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