5 Steps to Building Flavor: Tomato Soup Skills


My daughter randomly told me she liked my tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Bless her precious little heart! Compliment my cooking and two things happen.

  1. I immediately feel loved, validated, important, noble.
  2. I will make that dish for you whenever you ask and even when you don’t ask.

Needless to say, I made tomato soup for dinner the other night. I chose instead to pair it with a frittata {a close second to grilled cheese}. Thank goodness my daughter doesn’t hold grudges.

Soup is one of the most forgiving meals you can craft.  It is hard to ruin. Not to mention, measurements and cook time can be approximate. Why not use soup to practice a few cooking techniques? This episode of tomato soup is brought to you by the Italian Flavor Profile, 3|2|1 Cooking Method and the 5 Basic Steps to Building Flavor.


step one: Heat the Oil

My oil of choice is lard. I could sing a multitude of praises around the loveliness of lard. We will save that entertainment for another time. Obviously olive oil or butter are quality options as well. Heat at medium to medium-high range.

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step two: Add “durable” aromatics

Once the oil melts, add the durable aromatics. These are elements that thrive with a little heat. In this instance, I added the three base ingredients of the Italian Flavor Profile: onion, carrots and celery. This is also a great time to sprinkle some salt over the ingredients in the pan. Cook a couple (three to five) minutes until softened. Stir occasionally.

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step three: Add “Sensitive” Spices

To build flavor even more, I selected a handful of spices and herbs from the Italian Flavor Profile to add to the pot: bay leaf, black pepper, fennel, minced garlic, oregano, paprika, fresh parsley. Cook these sensitive spices until fragrant, stirring frequently.  The fragrance typically arrives after cooking for 30 seconds to a minute.

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step four: Add ingredients to flavor

The ingredient to flavor is tomatoes. Two cans diced tomatoes to be exact. Cook until respectable.

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step five: Deglaze with liquid

Deglazing comes next. Pour a large can of tomato juice and one quart of turkey stock into the pot. Bring contents to a boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer. After a short time has lapsed {30 minutes or so} taste the soup to determine if you should add more of a particular ingredient.  Let soup simmer until ready to serve. It can simmer for 30 minutes or a couple hours, however time allows.

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Finishing touches

Blend soup to a smoother texture or leave as is for a more rustic appearance.

Garnish with grated parmesan, prosciutto crumbles, toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley or a dollop of pesto. These are just a few possibilities!

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