Red is for tomato soup

Food history of America project two

Hi friends,

I would like to share two good finds recently, one is called America cookbook, the other is 1896 Boston cooking school cookbook. These two bring me so much joy, especially the America cookbook, talking about history going back to 300 years. Many women dedicated themselves so much to spread out the recipes or cooking knowledge.

It was not easy at the beginning since women were not getting educated, so most recipes were passed via word of mouths. But later on, with the education equality, women were able to write it down, not only the recipe but the morality of being a good wife, the guideline of how to take care of your house…etc. Isn’t it so interesting? Besides the history part of cookbooks, today we are going to make some delicious tomato soup in 19th style.

First of all, have a brief historical background of tomato.

Tomato originated in western South America. In Aztec language – Nahuatl, word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word tomate. It means “the swelling fruit”.The native Mexican tomatillo is tomate, meaning “fat water” or “fat thing”). The scientific species epithet lycopersicum is interpreted literally from Latin in the 1753 book, Species Plantarum, as “wolfpeach”, where the wolf is from lyco and peach is from persicum. The Spanish discovered the tomato from their contact with the Aztec during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and brought it to Europe. At the beginning, people didn’t know much of them: and since it belongs to the family of Solanaceae (deadly nightshade) they might be poisonous. On the other hand, they are tasty, kind of aphrodisiac like the mandrake plant. The French used to call them pommes d’amour: apples of love. The Italians named them pomi d’oro: golden apples.

The first published tomato soup is mentioned by Eliza Leslie in 1857 in her Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book. I am not so surprised tomato soup became a great hit at that time, so and so in 1897 Campbell’s, makes tomato soup as one of their earliest condensed soup cans. Even in 70 ‘s Andy Warhol use it for pop art work. the iconic tomato soup is no doubtfully inspiring. To this days, tomato soup still the top popular flavor.

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If you know me in real life, you may know I am a huge fan of soup. On the table of Asian family, it would be always having one soup, to me, it will be disappointed like western dinner without dessert, lack of a soup is something I can’t never ever use to. 🙂 I had made many times tomato soup in the modern version, usually is very fast and easy, the ingredient will be: onion, tomato, tomato can, garlic, and stock. It’s totally good and very convenient to make in a short time, tasty indeed but if you try this old style one, you will know the richer flavor is no doubt the winner. Let’s do it, shall we?

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Serves 2-4 people, preparation time 10 mins, cooking time 70 mins


1 tomato can (970ml)

¼ cup raw ham

¼ cup celery

¼ cup carrot

¼ cup flour

1/4 cup brown onion

3 cloves

3 spring thyme

a bay leaf

2 tablespoon butter

1-quart chicken stock

salt and black pepper

Cooking steps:

  1. In a big pot (I use 5 quart dutch oven), heat up butter until it starts bobbling, cook onion, carrot, celery and ham in butter for five mins in medium heat, turn to small heat, add flour, sprinkle evenly then stir it constantly, add some black pepper, bay leaf, cloves and thyme cook about 3 mins. then add tomato, put on the lid, cook slowly for an hour.
  2. Take out the thyme and bay leaf, pour all the ingredients into a blender, then strain it. At the same time, use the pot to heat up the chicken stock, put the strained soup base back to the pot, whisk it nicely. taste it and adjust the season by adding salt and black pepper, serve it hot. can garnish it with some parsley and parmesan.

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Alright, it’s really easy just a few steps! but believe me, it tasted so rich! please try it and tell me if you like it and if you can tell the difference between this early 1900s version and todays’. I wish you all have a nice beginning of week!


Gabrielle 🙂