Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tomato Soup Faster Than You Can Say Grilled Cheese

I'm on a fitness program that includes lots of vegetable meals for lunch.  So instead of getting tired of one green salad after another, I switch off between soup, vegetables with vegetable dip, salad, and so on.  Luckily I cook.  Today I had a taste for tomato soup and no, I didn't want canned.  I have nothing against canned tomato soup and keep it in my pantry; there are days nothing else appeals.  But today I wanted real food.

Done in under a half hour, this lusty (I almost said perky, but perky it isn't) soup just about jumped out of the pot, put its arms around me, and begged me to eat it.  If you have no fresh basil, increase the Herbes de Provence (or a combination of dried basil, thyme, etc.) to a teaspoonful and then test taste it.   Easily vegan and gluten-free (without some of the garnishes), this meal will heat everyone up despite the weather.  It's sunny, but snowy in Saint Paul today.

I'm not eating bread at lunch today, but this would be awesome with a baguette broiled with olive oil, grated Parmesan, and lots of black pepper.   Or, naturally, with the proverbial grilled cheese sandwich. Here's how:
Stir in a little plain yogurt at the table for a "Cream of  Tomato Soup" version.
light and lusty tomato soup  serves 4 

  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut into 2-inch pieces 
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced (use a little more celery if you have no fennel)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Generous pinch each:  crushed red pepper and Herbes de Provence (see above for substitutions)
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine*
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon honey          
  1. Place onion, celery, carrot, and fennel in food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Process, pulsing, until vegetables are diced.  (Or dice by hand.)
  2.  Heat a 6-quart heavy pot over medium low heat with the olive oil, pepper, and Herbes for a minute or until fragrant.  Add the whole garlic cloves and cook for a minute or until golden; turn and let cook another few seconds before adding the vegetables from the food processor.
  3. Stir in the fresh basil leaves, kosher salt, black pepper.  Cook for five minutes, stirring, until vegetables are beginning to soften.
  4. Pour in water, wine, broth, and tomatoes.  Stir in honey.  Bring to a boil.  
  5. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or so until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Puree using an immersion blender, in batches in the food processor or blender, or mash with a potato masher.  Alternatively, eat as is.
  7. Serve hot garnished with one of the following: chopped fresh basil, croutons, or chopped pistachios for vegan version.  Grated Parmesan cheese or a spoon of plain Greek yogurt for Gluten-Free version.  If you're ok any way at all, choose what you'd like, though just the Parmesan and a little fresh basil are perfectly perfect. 
*Replace the wine with water if need be.

Simple pictures are best:

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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