Image for article titled You can make tomato soup with a can of tomato paste

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A grilled cheese sandwich is a good quick lunch, but a little tomato soup on the side (for dipping and sipping) makes it feel like a real meal. There’s nothing wrong with heating up a can of Amys, but I’m much more likely to have a couple of cans of tomato paste in my pantry instead of a full-fledged soup.

The taste-price ratio of tomato paste is hard to beat. For around 99 cents per can, with tomato paste you get a concentrated tomato product with a deep tomato flavor. For another dollar (or sometimes less), you can buy some broth. Dilute the paste with the broth and you have soup.

Of course, I’ve refined the process a bit. I cook the tomato paste before adding liquid to give it a deeper, darker flavor, and finish the soup with cream to give it a plump body. There’s a little salt and sugar too, but you can go even fancier with the condiments if you’d like.

The following recipe will make enough soup for one person, but you can enlarge it to your liking. (Save leftover paste for pasta or rice or a Bloody Maria.) To do it you will need:

  • Half a can of tomato paste (about 5 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup of broth of your choice (you probably won’t use all of it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if your broth is very salty)
  • 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
  • Optional: garlic powder, onion powder, MSG, white pepper, oregano, or any other herb or spice you like; season to taste

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Put the paste in a small saucepan and cook it over medium heat until it darkens and sticks to the pan. Keeping it moving, spread it out and scrape it open with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula so it doesn’t burn. Once it’s darkened a shade or two, add half a cup of broth and stir until smooth. Add salt and sugar, then stir in more broth until the soup is as thick or thin as you want it to be. Remove from heat, stir in a tablespoon of cream and season if necessary. Serve with your finest grilled cheese sandwich.