Holland has quite a history with tomatoes: at first deemed only a decorative fruit, the tomato was considered poisonous until they figured out that the tin plates on which they served them caused the toxins. It quickly moved from show-apple to love-apple, celebrating the presumed afrodisiac powers this fruit of the nightshade family might have.

All those steamy thoughts quickly disappear when you realize that the tomato soup has become one of those industrialized, run-of-the-mill soups that are available anywhere and everywhere. Tomato soup is standard on menus, is available from automated soup dispensers and is sold in large family-sized cans. No tomato proud of its heritage would want to end up in a can like that....

But this time of year is a fantastic one to revive tomato soup from its sordid past, if only temporarily. Gardens are flooded with large, juicy, ripe, sunkissed tomatoes all over, just plain begging to be used up for a homemade, honest, honorable tomato soup. In Holland, tomato soup is traditionally served with soepballetjes and a splash of heavy cream. Best yet, you'll have this soup on the table in less than thirty minutes!

Dutch Tomato Soup
2 lbs of ripe tomatoes (use a variety for more complex flavor)
1 chicken bouillon cube
8 cups of hot water
1 small onion or shallot
1 tablespoon of butter
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

Peel and chop the onion or shallot and sauté it in the butter. Cut the tomatoes up in small pieces and after the onions have become translucent and released its fragrance, add the tomatoes and simmer for the next ten minutes. Pour the hot water over the top, add the chicken bouillon cube, the bay leaves and the fresh thyme, bring it up to a boil, then cover and turn down the flame to simmer for the next twenty minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and the stem sprigs, then puree the soup. Taste and adjust with salt if needed. Pour into bowls, add a tablespoon of evaporated milk, milk or sour cream to each and stir.

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