Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Eye of Newt Soup (Halloween Tomato Soup)

Halloween at my house—growing up, was an “all-in” sort of thing. My mom was always dressed up in a classic witch’s costume, complete with a black pointy hat, long flowing black gown, etc. Even electricians (black) tape over a tooth or two. She would come to the door holding Midnight, our aptly-named black cat, with my dad dressed like a ghost (white sheet, etc.). I was the “plant” in the crowd at the door who, after the candy had been dispensed, would be grabbed by my dad and dragged kicking and screaming into the house which sent Trick-or-Treaters running in every direction. Our house was truly a Halloween destination.

Hours before all of this began to unfold and in order to prep for all of this hoopla and hilarity, Joyce would always make a pot of “Eye of Newt Soup.” Basically, this was a tomato soup which consisted of 2 quarts of tomato juice, 3 cans of Heinz Tomato soup and 3 cans of water. All of that was heated through and ladled into a small bowl to which was added “a pat of butter” along with a couple of black olives which served as the eyes of newts. The recipe made about “20 coffee cup servings.”

At the bottom of the recipe card is says “Luther League 1972.” Sheeessh.

My memories of this little holiday evening aren’t quite complete without at least a tip of the (witches) hat to my Mom’s “Eye of Newt Soup.” God bless that woman for making food so darned fun! What follows is a greatly enhanced, modified and jacked-up version of this old family favorite. Yes, I did use a can of chopped tomatoes, but I also added three or four vine-on Bushel Boy tomatoes. This was outrageously great and nearly perfect. If one can indeed improve on perfection then to serve grilled cheese sandwiches with the soup does that trick and it’s just a treat!


Ingredients ~

  • 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup whole milk or ½ & ½ or heavy, if you’re really brave, whole (whipping) cream

Method ~

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, along with any vine-ripened tomatoes you might be using and spread them onto a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with ¼ cup of the olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes.

While that’s all cooking, in a soup pot, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted chopped canned and fresh tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil and cream. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth.

Serve in warmed bowls and add a couple of black olives to each.

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