Lemony Tomato Basil Soup – Guest Blog!

It’s that time of year when tomatoes are at there best and homegrown gardens are heaving!  What do you do with your abundant harvest? Make this to die for soup from this month’s guest blogger, Valerie Catullo. Putting a summery twist on traditional tomato basil soup, which sings Winter Warmer, by making it really zingy with a fresh lemon pop! Get canning and get eating!

Val is one of my bestest friends and I admire her to no end.  She made Layla a beautifully crocheted blanket upon her birth, has a crazy green thumb and basically everything she does could put Martha Stewart to shame…except insider trading. So without further ado, here are Val’s own words.

“Summertime on the East Coast brings with it hot summer night thunderstorms, the chirp of cicadas, gallons of sweet tea, and gardens laden with buckets of fresh tomatoes, zucchini and other produce. Summertime at our house also means days filled with canning leftover tomatoes, homemade pickles, and sweet jams and jellies.

Can she garden, or what?!

This Lemony Tomato Basil Soup brings together some of the best flavors of the summer in a gorgeous soup, light enough to serve on a hot steamy night! It just might take care of your excess tomatoes – and a few of your neighbor’s extras too!  This recipe is an adaptation of a Better Homes and Gardens recipe, sadly I couldn’t find the original online.”

NOTE:  You will need some specialist equipment for this recipe including a large (7-8 quart) heavy pot, a food mill or large sieve, 3 quart-sized canning jars with lids and bands, a canning pot and a jar grabber.

Yield: 5 pints


¼ cup/4 oz butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups finely chopped onions or leeks
2 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
6 cloves of garlic, minced
10 lbs/4.5 kg ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used ½  Roma tomatoes and ½ mixed tomatoes from our garden)
¼ cup sugar
4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, snipped and shredded
2 Tbsp finely shredded lemon peel
¾ cup lemon juice


1.  Start by chopping up the carrots, onions, celery and garlic.

2.  In a large (7-8 quart) heavy pot heat butter and oil over medium heat.

3.  Add chopped onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

4.  This is a great time to begin chopping up your mountain of tomatoes. This is what approximately 10 lbs of tomatoes looks like. I like to use a variety of tomatoes, so we have about 2 lbs Big Boys, 2 lbs Golden Vines, 4 lbs Romas, 1 lbs Grape tomatoes and 1 lb Brown Betty.  No need to deseed as the soup will be strained later in the process.

Note the adorable My Little Pony on the counter!

5.  Stir in tomatoes, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

6.  Press tomato mixture through a food mill or sieve; set the skins and seed mixture aside to make a caponata later.  (Caponata is a Sicilian vegetable spread/stew.  You can spread it on sandwiches, crostinis, fish, etc.  For a great bonus recipe to utilize your leftovers make this Zesty Tomato Caponata.)

7.  Return strained mixture to pot. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer for about 45 minutes or until reduced to about 10 cups. While the soup is reducing, bring your canning pot full of water to a boil to sterilize your canning jars, lids, and caps.

8.  While soup is simmering and jars are sterilizing, snip fresh basil and peel the fresh lemon. I then chopped mine in the food processor because I wanted a fine mixture instead of large chunks.

9.  Remove soup from heat. Remove sterilized jars, caps and lids from boiling water – but don’t turn the water off. Stir in basil, lemon peel and lemon juice to soup.

10.  Ladle hot soup into hot sterilized quart canning jars*, leaving a ½ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; tighten lids and screw bands.

NOTE:  *Do NOT put hot liquid into cold jars or cold jars into boiling water unless you want the glass to explode everywhere!

11.  Put jars back into boiling water in the canning pot. Leave filled jars in a boiling-water bath for 35 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; leave alone to cool.

12.  When jars are completely cooled, check to make sure there is a solid seal by pressing on the lids. The lids should NOT make the popping sound or move around; they should be slightly concave. If they are not, seal them back up and process them in the water bath again**. Once processed correctly, label and enjoy!

NOTE:  ** If your jars do not process correctly a second time you should not try for a third time to avoid food poisoning.

About Valerie Catullo

Valerie comes from a long line of experimental cooks, is a part-time gardener, full-time mom, and life-time chocoholic! When she’s not running around after the kiddos she can be found whipping up crazy experiments in the kitchen, taking out her frustrations on the garden, or hiding under a blanket with a good book.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
I’m from Oregon, so I have to go with Tillamook Ice Creamery‘s Wild Mountain Huckleberry, but only for right now. The rest of the year it’s Tillamook’s Udderly Chocolate.

What song did you most recently listen to on your playlist?
Joy to the World from Three Dog Night

What is your current food obsession/craving?
Right now it’s the height of summer, so I’m craving peaches, blackberries, and anything with tomatoes or cucumbers in it.

Food Heaven?
Smell is a huge factor in cooking for me, so when I think of heaven it’s a medley of my favorite smells all together: Warm cinnamon rolls and fresh brewed coffee on a crisp fall beach morning – when you can smell the fresh salty ocean breeze!

Food Hell?
Flan. There are no words for this blobby gelatinous goo of blandness.

Where can we find your dishes?
You can usually find me cooking at home whipping up a batch of homemade soups, pickles, or special holiday treats for my finicky family – or passing off new experiments on unsuspecting folks at church potlucks!

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