Canned San Marzano and freshly roasted Datterini tomatoes are the secret ingredients for making a delicious tomato soup all year round.


Italians are serious about alimentation :: alimentazione. I mean serious.  They grow up with mothers and grandmothers who make pastas and breads by hand, have the tradition to buy their fruit and vegetables in season from their local markets and spend top price for high quality food; for example, while an Italian may spend $25 for a good chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that lasts about a week, many of us Americans grow up with the green cylinder already grated parmesean-but-not-really-parmesean-fluffy-powder bought at a whopping price of $2 which is then stored in the side door of the fridge for a year.  This is unheard of in Italy. I would like to see the look on an old Italian grandmother’s face :: faccia if I presented her with grated cheese in a cylinder tube….she might just slap me. Or worse, what if I gave her cheese whiz in a can? At that point, I’m sure the wooden cane would come out and I would have to make a dead sprint before she beat me over the head unconscious. It would not be a pretty sight; Italian grandmothers are fierce…

So when I say Italians are serious about their food, I mean it. Italy and the rest of the European Union uphold some of the strictest regulations regarding the typicality of certain foods in order to protect these specialties from imitation :: imitazione.  If you’ve ever been to Italy or have bought imported goods, you are probably quite familiar with seeing DOC, DOCG, DOP or IGP on labels; yet, do you know what these acronyms stand for?



DOC and DOCG are two labels to classify high quality wine. DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) means Controlled Designation of Origin and is a way to demonstrate that the wine has been produced within a specific region, used defined traditional methods of production and packaging :: imballaggio and satisfies a certain quality standard.  DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) stands for Controlled Designation of Origin Guaranteed and is an even stricter classification that requires wines to adhere to the above mentioned criteria and further more be analysed and tasted by licensed personnel before being bottled :: imbottigliato .



While wine is classified with DOC and DOCG labels, high quality foods are classified as DOP or IGP. DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) stands for Protected Designation of Origin. As the name suggests, the DOP certification guarentees consumers that the alimentary products are produced from the area where the product originated :: originati and follow traditional methods throughout all stages—from production to packaging. IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) means Indication of Geographical Protection.  These labels :: etichette are still noteworthy as they trace food back to their geographical origin for at least one phase in production, but they do not cover all phases like DOP products.



The most famous DOP products are: buffalo mozzarella, balsamic vinegar :: aceto balsamico, olive oil, basil, pesto, parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese), prosciutto (ham) and San Marzano Tomatoes.  I’ll cover the other products in future articles, but for now let’s talk about San Marzano tomatoes as they are the base for this recipe. What makes these succulent heirloom tomatoes :: pomodori so special?

San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius, picked by hand, have a low seed count and a bittersweet :: agrodolce flavor.  They are optimal tomatoes for sauce and they preserve amazingly well as a canned product; perfect for making tomato soup out of season when fresh tomatoes usually taste like a bland :: insipidi, juiceless ball.


San Marzano tomatoes do cost :: costano quite a bit more than regular canned tomatoes, but I promise you this little indulgence is worth every penny.  Try it for yourself and let me know what you think :: pensi!


Want a fuller meal? Try this soup :: zuppa with a Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

San Marzano and Roasted Datterini Tomato and Basil Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Canned San Marzano and freshly roasted Datterini tomatoes are the secret ingredients for making a delicious tomato soup all year round.
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb small vine-ripened tomatoes like Datterini or Grape tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup, chopped fresh basil plus more for garnish
  • Two 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup heavy cream (optional) + more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Place the tomatoes on the lined sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until covered. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat then add the basil and stir for 30 seconds. Add the San Marzano tomatoes along with their juice, water, heavy cream and oregano. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Gently add the oven-roasted tomatoes into the saucepan and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with cream and garnish with basil leaves.
To make a lighter version, skip the cream.

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