Sex, Lies, Cream of Tomato Soup

Sorry for the deceptive title, but I wanted you to read this.

I have always adored tomato soup of all varieties. It’s like a warm hug from a favorite aunt, loving and unpretentious. The best tomato soup I ever had was the tomato-cheddar at Henry David’s Restaurant in Keene, NH. Sadly, Henry David’s no longer exists, but twenty-plus years ago, it was THE restaurant to go to in Keene, NH. Back in college, I would trek to Henry David’s in my LL Bean Maine hunting boots with my roommates and enjoy a nice hot cup of tomato-cheddar. Maybe it was the snow and slush that covered Keene from November until March, maybe it was the slim pickings of our dining hall, maybe it was the fact I was always starving back then, but no soup has ever tasted so satisfying to me before or since. I have tried numerous times using various recipes to find a tomato-cheddar that I like as much as Henry David’s, but I have never been successful. Perhaps  the missing secret ingredient is my youth? If, by chance, you happen to have a great (not merely good, GREAT) tomato-cheddar soup recipe, I sincerely hope you will share it with me.

Continuing our tour of Keene, NH, we come to a humble little diner that has been in existence since 1961 and has the honor of being the spot of the first, last and only waitressing job I’ve ever held for the hardest two months of my life.  If you are a political show junkie as I am, you may already be familiar with Lindy’s Diner in Keene, NH. If you plan on winning the NH primary, I highly suggest you visit Lindy’s. I have the distinction of being the worst waitress who ever served in their long and proud history, as well as the one who cried the most in front of customers and who received the most pennies and nickels for tips. Since this was 1988 and not 1908, a seventeen cent tip is every bit the insult you think it is.

Despite my traumatizing but short-lived diner waitress career, I still love diners to this day. Like tomato soup, diner food is always such a comfort to me. I was so excited to come across this recipe in Diner Classics chapter of Jane and Michael Stern’s Square Meals for Cream of Tomato Soup: a little bit wholesome, a little bit trashy, a whole lot of perfect.

I used tomatoes I had frozen at the end of the summer from my garden. Since they are Romas and a bit smaller, I used eight instead of six.

I love that there are onions AND scallions AND garlic in this soup. Probably not suitable for a first date, but extra flavorful nonetheless.

The result is a richly layered soup that is not too heavy. I know this is a classic diner offering, but I would serve it to special guests with pride. Thank you, Sterns!

Cream of Tomato Soup, from Square Meals by Jane and Michael Stern

1 onion, chopped fine

1 carrot, chopped fine

4 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 quart chicken broth

6 fresh and large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped course

1 clove garlic, crushed

6 scallions, chopped fine

4 white peppercorns, whole

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 cup light cream

In a deep pot, saute onion and carrot in butter until onion turns slightly brown. Add flour; mix well. Slowly add broth, tomatoes, garlic, scallions, peppercorns, salt and sugar. Cover and cook over low heat 1 1/2 hours.

Blend in blender or food processor and add cream. Garnish with a sprinkle of basil, oregano, or toasted croutons. Serves 4 to 6.

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12 thoughts on “Sex, Lies, Cream of Tomato Soup

  1. Too funny. I am so proud to know Lindy’s worst waitress ever.

    I made a tomato-basil bisque a few days ago with pretty much the same ingredients (more basil, no sugar). Love it.

  2. HI!!! Sue Meyers introduced me to your blog and I am excited to see what you have to make!

    I am such a big fan of tomato soup, it is one of those comfort meals that I could eat every week during the winter. With a grilled cheese of course 😉

  3. recipe for henry davids tomato soup? i have their cookbook that went for sale after their closing with all their “famous” recipes…. haha.. but the soup? just make it with light cream, can of tomato soup (campbells) and use cheddar grated on bottom of mug, more on top..
    seriously, thats all it is.. hope you enjoy

  4. I just finished a bowl of my version of Henry David’s Tomato soup. I was wondering if the restaurant was still in business and decided to google it. Your blog came up. How great to find someone with a similar college memory. I however went to Franklin Pierce in the 80’s so we had to plan our trips over to Keene. After reading all the comments turns out my version is right on. Campbell’s tomato made with whole milk and an extra sharp cheddar grated into the bowl first. Sometimes I’ll mix it up and try a different cheese like Swiss. Also awesome.

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