Along the Grapevine

Clear Tomato Soup with Lemon Balm and Vodka

41 Comments

I’m not complaining, but I do have an awful lot of tomatoes to deal with this year. Every day I pick a pile like this, and then have to do something with them fast.

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We consume what we can fresh, and the rest I dry, roast, or make into a very thick sauce to freeze. But to-day I decided to use them in a completely different way, by straining only the colourless juice out of them and making a soup. So my contribution to Fiesta Friday this week is this unusual soup – a light broth with a zingy flavour, elegant enough for a dinner party, tasty enough to drink from a tall glass.

I will be co-hosting Fiesta Friday this week, now in its 32nd week. I look forward to meeting everyone and seeing what they bring. Even if you are not participating, I recommend checking out the contributions. Just click on the link above. You are bound to be entertained and inspired. And a big thank you to Angie, our gracious hostess, for making this event the success that it is.

For my recipe, I added some greens and garlic from the garden. As I was hunting for herbs, I had to pass through my healthy patch of lemon baln (melissa officionalis), a member of the mint family. In North America it has escaped cultivation and grows wild. If you have it in your garden, you will have to whack it back regularly or it will take over completely. However, a little is nice to have for its beautiful, lemony aroma. It is considered to have some health benefits for digestive problems and has a calming effect, usually taken in the form of oil extracted from it. As for cooking, I find heat removes the very mild flavour it has, and so it is not very useful. However, as I was using this raw, I hoped it would add a little something to my soup recipe.

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To make the soup, I filled the food processor with roughly chopped tomatoes (2 lbs), some chives, lemon balm, basil and a sliver of garlic. I repeated this four times. Then I strained it through a linen cloth, which took about three hours. If you are working in a cool place or have room in the fridge, it would be better to leave it overnight, but I was short of space. My eight pounds of tomatoes et al produced about 4 cups of clear juice. The strained tomatoes I then used as a salsa, so nothing was wasted. Just add a little salt and hot pepper.

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This soup could be heated, but since it was a summery day, I left it cold. And I added 1 tablespoon of vodka per cup of soup. This is not necessary – the soup was delicious without it – but the vodka does go well with it.  A sprig of lemon balm, and it’s ready to serve.

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The flavour of the clear tomato broth is surprisingly strong, and is a pleasant change from the usual pulpiness of the fruit. I think it might be good to make it from frozen tomatoes, where the clear juice separates so much more quickly once thawed. It would be wonderful to enjoy the flavour of fresh, uncooked tomatoes in the middle of winter.

 

Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

41 thoughts on “Clear Tomato Soup with Lemon Balm and Vodka

  1. I like the clear tomato soup concept, finally a great use for the clear juice that we often cook down. As for the vodka, while I like Alberta, try Iceberg from Newfoundland made from the water from icebergs floating past the Island. Just kidding on the vodka, the soup sounds wonderful and look forward to trying it.
    B&B

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  2. This might be refreshing in a shot glass at a tapas party. Yup, going to Pin it to my tapas party board. Thanks for hosting FF, Hilda.

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    • I like that idea Tracey, of serving it in shot glasses with tapas. Maybe up the vodka a tad to spin it out. But a great way to make a little go a long way, and it would certainly go well with the tapas.

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  3. Oh my gosh do I love this soup, it is so unique and beautiful!!!!! I love the translucency. I almost gagged when I saw that 8 pounds of tomatoes made 4 cups of broth, but then voila, we have salsa so that’s very good! Alas I won’t be using vodka, but my husband could spike his broth!

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  4. Lovely bowl of soup, Hilda. Sadly, I don’t ever have the problem of having too many tomatoes, but your use of them for the clear soup and salsa are great ideas! I buy lemon balm sometimes and only have used it for tea. I love the flavor and will remember to use it next time in a fresh soup!

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  5. i really like this concept! and it sounds delish!

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  6. This looks beautiful! Going to have to give this a try🙂 Happy FF!

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  7. Intriguing recipe Hilda! And thank you so much for co-hosting!

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  8. You are a genius, Hilda! This is brilliant and I love the idea of serving it in a shot glass at a party! Thanks so much for being our co-host today! As always, I just feel like we are in such good hands!😀

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  9. This looks delicious, light but full of flavor. I love how you made the remaining tomato in to a salsa as well. Brilliant!🙂

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  10. Great use of those special ingredients that we all take for granted. I love the freshness of garden goodness. Also, thanks so much for co-hosting yet again Hilda🙂

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    • Thanks Loretta. It is a nice time of year when we can, even in this cold climate, enjoy so many freshly picked things from our garden or nearby. I just wish the season weren’t so short – and intense.

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  11. I am “red” with envy; a surplus of tomatoes sounds like a fantasy to me. But my husband loves to make any kind of consomme, so I’m willing to bet he’d sacrifice our few tomatoes to try this recipe. And I love that you turned what was left into salsa – brilliant!

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    • Thanks so much. I am thinking of finishing the leftover cup or so as shots since there isn’t enough for full servings for the two of us. And the salsa is delicious – will go well with the shots.

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  13. I love your soup and your salsa is really good Hilda. Very often in the evening we drink an infusion of Melisse, Verbena and Linden. Thank you for co-hosting this week!

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  14. It’s hard to find something to say…. I’m afraid to banalize all this! You’re a talented cook, love the originality of your recipes…. Mother Nature should be very proud of what you do!

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    • Thanks so much. I just happen to have a lot of time to experiment in the kitchen when I feel like it. Some recipes I thought up ages ago, but the blog is a great incentive to actually do them.

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  16. I just love having fresh tomatoes and herbs. I would never have thought to make soup like this. Genius!

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  17. Wow what a great way to use those tomatoes, so unique I love it

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  18. Wow just love clear soup with fresh herbs and tomatoes. ..droolicious…

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  19. Hilda

    What a very creative And interesting use of the tomatoes, garlic etc from the garden. I will certainly give this a try with my garden goodies😉 thanks for being a great co-host and for always welcoming me to the party!

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  20. And thank you for stopping by and commenting. I enjoy the chance to chat with all Angie’s guests, and see what they are up to.

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  21. I lvoe that first picture with your tomato crop Hilda, looks amazing!! That clear soup sounds really refreshing!

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  22. What an interesting soup you have here Hiida. And so lucky you have such a bountiful yield of tomatoes! I have never tasted lemon balm but it sure seems like a zesty flavor! ANd you are so creative to come up with this idea of a clear tomato soup! Who would have thought of that! Amazing!🙂

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  23. Great idea for another use of tomatoes. I have always canned or used them in recipes but never froze any until this year – clear soup, very interesting🙂

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  24. Yum! Vodka and tomatoes go so well together. I need better cloths for straining. I have some old linen pants I thought I would cut up and serge into straining cloths. Do your linen cloths work better than cheesecloth? I find cheesecloth frustrating to use. Thanks for another great recipe🙂

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    • I probably should have explained a little more about cloths. I experimented quite a lot and found that cheesecloth needed to be so thick, it wasn’t worthwhile. Also, rinsing and reusing was hopeless. I used clean linen or cotton. And it is important there is no detergent residue in them – although I was desperate and took some chances. I found two clean tea towels worked well – using one I had to strain it twice. Recycling old linen should work fine – I wouldn’t even bother serging it myself – just use pinking shears and keep it easy. Jelly bags would also be ideal, but I ran out of them.

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      • Thank you for your help. Every time I strain something, I think there must be a better way! You’re right about the impossibility of reusing cheesecloth. It’s good for just one go. If the recycled pants don’t work, I’ll look for jelly bags. The fabric is very thin (that’s why I had to stop wearing them, holes all over). Fingers crossed.

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  25. I envy you for your rich tomato harvest! Great to have some soup with it, I like the wodka twist.

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  26. Very clever idea- I like the addition of vodka! I wish I had some tomatoes to make some fresh salsa with!🙂

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