Spicy Tomato Soup to Can for Winter Eating

This rich, deeply flavorful tomato soup will taste so good next winter accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich, or not, that you’ll feel like planting an acre of tomatoes. Well, I exaggerate, but only a little. This soup is a pretty good reason to stick a few more plants in the ground.

Tomatoes are so darn useful that I almost never have enough for all the fresh eating that we like in good old B.L.T.s, salad, fresh salsa, gazpacho, as well as canned sauce and stewed tomatoes, and chili sauce. So now this soup recipe comes from Margaret Webb in Belfast to add to the preserves shelf. The original recipe calls for fourteen quarts of tomatoes; I’d be hard pressed to have that many all at one time even in a good tomato year. Maybe that isn’t your problem, in which case, bless you. I had to try this recipe out with a fraction of the tomatoes.

Margaret’s recipe calls for hot peppers. The full recipe needs four but Margaret wrote, “I don’t like it that hot, so I use one hot green pepper with the seeds and probably one or two more without the seeds.” Clearly it is one of those to-your-own-taste situations. There are lots of different kinds of hot peppers that you can grow in your own garden, or buy in the grocery store. If you like capsicums, then you probably have favorites that you will use. I am growing semi-hot peppers this year, and I used those figuring if we needed more zip, I could add dried red peppers or even a squirt or two from the hot sauce bottle. If you are new to pepperdom, start with jalapenos, and remove the seeds.

Additionally, Margaret’s recipe, supplied below, calls for a roux of butter and flour to thicken it. Given the likelihood of a gluten-avoider at my table, I decided that in my version of the recipe I would leave it as a last step while preparing a meal if I decided I wanted to add it, and so canned the soup without it. In some ways, I prefer the flavor without the thickening, and might rather just cook it down a little more, but you can decide what you want to do after you make and taste it.

Here is Margaret’s recipe, followed by my version in the box.

Margaret’s Spicy Tomato Soup

14 quarts ripe tomatoes, cut up but not peeled

4 hot peppers

¼ cup salt

10 small onions, coarsely chopped

10 ribs celery, coarsely chopped

25 whole cloves, or 1 teaspoon ground

14 sprigs parsley

14 bay leaves

2 cups brown sugar

1 pound butter

2 cups flour

Put all of the ingredients except the sugar, butter, and flour together in a large cook pot.

Cook until everything is tender, about an hour and a half.

Put through a food mill or chinois (straining cone) and put back into the pot.

Add the brown sugar and stir to incorporate.

Melt the butter in a one quart pan and gradually add the flour whisking the whole time until the roux bubbles and thickens. Remove from the heat.

Reheat the soup, and gradually add the roux, stirring steadily to prevent lumping, and bring it all to a boil.

Put into clean, hot quart-sized canning jars, seal and process for twenty minutes.

Makes about ten to twelve quarts.

Spicy Tomato Soup
Serves: MAkes 2-3 quarts
  • Spicy Tomato Soup
  • 3 to 4 quarts ripe tomatoes, cut up but not peeled
  • 1 hot pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 small onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  1. Put all of the ingredients except the brown sugar together in a large cook pot.
  2. Cook until everything is tender, about an hour and a half.
  3. Put through a food mill or chinois (straining cone) and put back into the pot.
  4. Add the brown sugar, stir to incorporate and bring to a boil.
  5. Put into clean, hot quart-sized canning jars, seal and process for twenty minutes.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.