Homemade bottled tomato soup was a staple in our house when I was growing up. Big quart jars of the stuff would come out of the wash house and get heated up for warming winter lunches with hot buttered toast and a sprinkling of grated cheese on top - or Mum's cheese puffs if we were lucky.
In late summer the tomato crop ripens and home gardeners need a stash of good recipes for using up the tomato harvest.
Tomato passata or pasta sauce has become very trendy in recent years but when I was a kid it was tomato soup and tomato sauce (the kind you put on sausages in bread) that got made with the bulk of the tomato harvest.
This recipe was given to mum in the 60's by her friend June Neilson and mum still makes it every summer. I make it now too and I've made a few additions to the original recipe. Whichever version you make - I'm sure you'll love it.
How to Safely Preserve Tomatoes
You can't just boil up tomatoes and put them in a jar and seal them like you do with peaches or other fruits. Tomatoes don't have enough acid in them to stop botulism forming in the jar.
You can't see botulism or smell it but it can grow in airless low acid environments, like a jar of tomatoes. It is a dangerous toxin that can kill you so you need to take it seriously.
There are only two ways to safely preserve tomatoes:
- use a fancy pressure canner that will take the temperature up to 116°C inside the jars.
- add acid in your recipes to lower the pH to a safe level of 4.5 or less - this makes it too acidic for botulism to grow.
I actually did purchase a pressure canner and used it a few times to can (bottle) vegetable soups and even herrings. But to be honest it scares me to use it and I find it easier to use the overflow method to fill jars.
As long as you use a trusted recipe with added acid you can safely preserve tomatoes this way.
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Mum's Homemade Tomato Soup
Country Trading Co.
6 kg (12 lbs) ripe tomatoes
3 whole cloves
500 mls (1 pint) hot water
1 tablespoon of non-iodised sea salt
3 stalks of celery
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground pepper
a few sprigs of parsley
5 bay leaves
1/2 cup of sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cloves of garlic
large handful of fresh herbs, parsley (essential) basil, thyme (optional)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika powder
I use brown sugar instead of white
I use chicken stock instead of hot water
I use celery seeds 1/2 teaspoon if I don't have fresh celery
Mum's Original Recipe
My Additions / Substitutions
Boil all ingredients together until well cooked
Strain through a colander or mouli to remove the skins and seeds
Thickening before Bottling (optional)
Melt the butter and mix with the flour to form a paste
Add to the boiling soup and whisk until well combined. Boil hard for 3 minutes
Bottling the Soup
Heat 10 x 500 ml clean preserving jars in the oven to sterilise them at 100°C
Boil 10 x seals and bands in a pot of water
Have the soup boiling and bring the jars out of the oven to fill them one by one. Fill to just below the top, clean any soup from the rim. Place a hot seal on the jar and screw a hot band on until it is firm. Work quickly and don't retighten the lid once you have it on.
Sit the sealed jars on a wooden chopping board to cool and when they are completely cold remove the bands and check that they have sealed. Any that haven't sealed put in the fridge and eat within a few days.