It’s that time of year when the temperature starts to rise and the clothing starts to shed. No more bulky sweaters to hide those extra pounds.
Years ago there was a soup commercial with a girl hanging a yellow polka dot bikini on her wall as incentive to stick to her diet. To aid in her endeavor, she would eat soup for lunch – all the while singing “she wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny….”.
It’s really not a silly idea. Soup is low in calories and filling enough to get you away from the table unscathed by a grilled cheese sandwich and French fries.
I found an easy recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for creamy tomato soup – without the cream (or any dairy at all, for that matter). Of course, I adjusted it for vegetarians by substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock.
Here’s the important thing: DON’T BUY TOMATOES FROM A SUPERMARKET! They were picked green and have no flavor. Either grow them yourself, or buy them from a local farmer’s market. Otherwise, buy canned whole tomatoes (Muir Glen brand is rated best), which is what you’ll have to do most of the year.
TOMATO SOUP – makes about 5 cups
- 3-4 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 28 oz can whole tomatoes OR 2 lbs fresh Roma tomatoes
- 3 slices white bread, crust removed
- 1 T brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
- 2 cups vegetable stock (here’s my recipe for homemade: VEGETABLE STOCK)
- 2 T brandy (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/2 tsp salt)
Heat 2 T oil in large saucepan, then add onions, garlic, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Sauté about 5 minutes.
Remove stem ends and any skins or impurities from tomatoes. Coarsely chop (don’t worry too much about this – they’re going in the blender eventually) and add to onions, continuing cooking.
Tear bread into pieces and stir into soup, along with brown sugar. Cover pot and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove lid and cool 15 minutes. DISCARD BAY LEAF!! This is very important – you don’t want it blended with the soup or you’ll have to throw it out.
Purée the soup in a blender. Depending on the size of the pitcher, this will require 1-2 batches. With each batch, add in 1 T olive oil before blending.
Clean out saucepan (or use another) and pour in puréed soup. Add in the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer, stirring until heated through. Stir in brandy, if using. Adjust seasoning, as needed.