Okay, yesterday I put down the practical, procedural part; now for the notes and theory.
Most tomato soup recipes involve three basic steps: prepare the soup base, puree and sieve it, and finally reheat and season.
TEXTURE: We followed the program to a point, then struck out in our own, decadent direction. Now that I think about it, we didn’t even make it all the way through step 1, since I had my usual reaction to the instructions to slip the skins and toss them, which was, Huh? And I would be doing this why precisely?
After consultation with Steve, who looked similarly blank, I decided to skip both that and the sieving required by step 2. This makes for a vastly simplified process, always a plus as I’m an enthusiastic but disorganized cook.
I’m even less clear on a motive for tossing the skins after trying it with skins on (twice now). It’s true we weren’t going for a Campbell’s creamy-smooth texture; there was actually some stuff (including pale spots identifiable as seeds! Horrors!) that settled to the bottom of the pot, or bowl, but there certainly weren’t strands or clumps of skin floating around.
GARLIC: Here’s a step I don’t recommend taking short-cuts on: garlic prep. If you toss firm cloves of garlic into the soup mix and cook them only briefly, the blender might just chip away at the outside, leaving a large and startling core for someone to chomp down on. Therefore, mash. The easiest way is to set the flat of a knife on an unpeeled clove and give it a good hard whack. This breaks the dry papery shell, making it easy to remove, and crushes the clove as well.
THICKNESS: (I first typed THINCKNESS, which seems to me to imply all sorts of possibilities.) If you’re planning to add milk or cream, cut back on stock.