Friday, 24 June 2011

50 Women Game-Changers in Food - Fannie Farmer - Pure Cream of Tomato Soup

A number of us are following Mary of One Perfect Bite's invitation to cook along following the list of 50 amazing women cooks who have changed our outlook on food.  I am loving this whole challenge as I am always interested in learning something new. This week we are cooking with Fannie Farmer whose name of course I knew but not much more than that. We post every Friday.

a bowl of Fanny Farmer's Pure Cream of Tomato Soup

So now I have discovered that Fannie Farmer is called ‘the mother of level measurements’.  She is the person who standardized recipe specifications. How radical is that? She is the one who approximately one hundred years ago wrote a cook book called The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.  The fact that this book is still available now says it all. I think that Turkey could do with a Fannie Farmer. Measurements here are still in tea glasses and coffee cups. I know that these are equivalent to things we know ie cups and half cups but still, they can be very confusing to new cooks who don’t realise that.
My first step to find out more about Fannie was to go on the internet. I easily accessed info re her recipes but what daunted me was the type of recipe eg sausage stuffing; buttermilk pancakes; baked doughnuts; cornbread muffins; pecan penuche and the like. Recipes like these are totally alien to me: the ingredients are unknown or unavailable here, and to boot, I have no interest in them. So it’s interesting: cooking depends on so many factors, not so much can you make them, but more importantly: do you WANT to make them?
But I am nothing if not  an interested cook so I found a soup recipe that I thought would fit the bill. TT loves soup and plus he has been a bit deprived since baby Eva entered our lives and I am not at home. This afternoon I did go back home and did some cooking in my own kitchen. I knew he would love this and sure enough this recipe is great for any soup lover not just a new grandad!
So here it is:

Fannie Farmer’s Pure Cream of Tomato Soup
Serves 6

5 tbsp butter
½ cup chopped onion
4 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
½ bay leaf
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
3 cups tomatoes (fresh or canned – I say tinned!)

3 big beauties= 3 cups


·         Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned.

·         Sprinkle the flour over the butter mixture and continue to stir and cook for 1-2 mins.

keep stirring
·         Slowly add the milk, bay leaf, sugar, and salt, and continue to cook and stir until slightly thickened.

·         Add the baking soda into the tomatoes and then add to the milk. Bring just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and put through a strainer. Taste and correct seasonings. Reheat before serving.

adding the chopped tomatoes to the mixture

again, stir


1.       I used beautiful big Çanakkale tomatoes. They're not quite as sun-kissed as they will be but they're getting there.  The skin was thick so they peeled easily with a knife.

2.       I think the main thing is to make sure that you cook the flour mixture slowly but surely. It will gradually thicken as you stir. Be patient. If you don’t do this, the taste won’t be so good and the consistency will not be right.

3.       At the end I used my stick blender and then I strained it. The result was a beautiful fragrant velvety-smooth soup that really tasted of tomatoes. We loved it.

served with croutons

The number of original bloggers who were cooking along has now increased  to seven! Do check out these blogs to see which Fannie Farmer recipe they have cooked! The bloggers themselves are all fabulous cooks so I am sure the results will be excellent:
Mary from One Perfect Bite
Val from More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne from Eats Well With Others
Taryn from Have Kitchen Will Feed
Heather from Girlichef
Susan from The Spice Garden
I hope you are enjoying this as much as we are!
Last week Alice Waters of the iconic restaurant Chez Panisse was No 2 on our list. Coincidentally  Cenk from Fernando's Cafe, a top blog in Turkey, has just written a fantastic post about his recent visit there so why don't you have a look?