Tomato Soup And The Big Seed Out


For us, summer started a few weeks ago, in mid-March, during a snow storm that would ultimately drop more than 12-inches. Early on we declared a snow day and spent a morning planting almost 1,000 tomato and pepper plants in our basement grow room. Without question this will be the most important planting session of our growing year. Baring grievous misfortune or outrageous happenstance, tomatoes will be our largest dollar crop by a significant margin (just as they are for almost all mixed veggie farms). Sold as both plants and fruit, they could account for up to a full 5th of our income. In no small way, the financial success of our farm depends on our success with tomatoes. The peppers are important too. While they won’t drive as much income as the tomatoes, they are essential to our presenting a vibrant and interesting market stand. We focus on growing unusual varieties with great flavors and colors. So when the pepper come good, they will help us build a colorful, vibrant and delicious market stand.


We start all our tomatoes and peppers in mini soil-blocks, on a heated germination mat set to 80-degrees. Soon after emergence, before the sprouts reach two-inches, we up-block them to our standard size (2-inch) soil block. They continue to live under the grow lights until they sprout their first set of “true” leaves. Then they are up-potted to round pots (5-inch for tomatoes and 4-inch for peppers) and relocated to a nursery hoop we built in the garden. When we started, there was some debate about the necessity of the heated mat. We didn’t want to over-complicated things and in some ways it seemed like a waste of effort and electricity. However, understanding how important these crops will be for us we decided to not take any chances with them. And I can say the mat dramatically  improved both our germination percentage and our rate of emergence. Going forward we will continue using it.

This time of year we use all canned tomatoes in the kitchen. We’ve no choice really. Off season, in March during a snow storm for instance, grocery store tomatoes are reliably horrible (not to suggest they’re much better in summer). I prefer excellent quality, in-season tomatoes preserved at their height. Unfortunatly, cooking from cans limits the dishes we can prepare, so off season we cook a lot of soup and sauce.


There are two secrets to this tomato soup recipe. First, use only whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes. Personally, I prefer the actual San Marzano brand. They are the best sauce tomatoes I’ve ever used. Second, sweat the onions low and slow to draw out all their sweetness. The San Marzano’s are a bit sweet to begin with so the sugar from the onion is plenty to balance out any and all taste of bitter. The tomato’s also have a low acidity so very little fat is needed to bring them into balance.

Tomato Soup

Likely the best Tomato Soup I’ve ever had. Certainly the best I’ve ever made.


  • 2 cans San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 diced yellow onion
  • 1 Tb unsalted butter
  • Whole milk or cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Some high quality olive oil for garnish


Add the butter to a deep, medium hot soup pan and melt until it stops foaming. Add onion with a couple pinches of salt and reduce heat. Sweat onions for 20-25 minutes until fully cooked and very sweet. Add the tomatoes, juice and all. Simmer for a few minutes and blend with either a burr mixer or in blender. Work in batches if needed. Return to pan, adjust seasoning and serve with a swirl of olive oil.

Cooking time (duration): 34

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