Skin-and-All Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese

Have you ever wanted to make tomato soup from scratch? But then did without the pleasures of fresh tomatoes because you didn’t feel like skinning them? If you have, count me in and please read on. This recipe might be perfect for you.

Delicious and filling--hot and cold!

Delicious and filling–hot and cold!

Okay, here’s the story. I came away from the fruit-and-vegetable store with nine large, discounted tomatoes ($1.49). Two were hardly blemished so they’ll be used in a salad, but seven squishy sad sacks definitely qualified for a soup.

Now skinning tomatoes isn’t hard, but if I’m going to go to the trouble of boiling a large pot of water, etc., etc., etc., I’ll do it for 18 tomatoes but not a measly seven.

A Hand Blender Sorta Like Mine

A Hand Blender Sorta Like Mine

Questions came to mind:

  • What if I didn’t skin them?
  • What if I just removed the tough stem sections at the top of the tomatoes, cut them in quarters, cooked them to death with that leftover, half-onion, added some soft, herbed goat cheese, and then applied my hand-blender to them?
  • Would I be supping at my soup and find myself chewing on pieces of tomato skin?

The Goddess of Cuisine smiled down on me. The hand-blender chomped the skins into tiny pieces. (See red spots in the photo.) And the results are yummy.  The goat cheese made the soup creamy and took the tartness out of the tomatoes. The herbs added a light, savoury flavor. And the shirataki noodles provided more bulk.

A great recipe when you want fast and easy-peasy!

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Plantains

IMGP1886Sometimes, American expats, like myself, get together for an American Thanksgiving. Which is how the spouse and I recently found ourselves with friends, Tony and Gail, eating turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, etc., etc., and etc.

Tony had made a delicious entrée, Spicy Squash Soup, from a recipe on Oprah’s web site where it is billed as being influenced by “the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean.”

To be honest, I’ve been in various countries around the Caribbean and never had anything that tasted like this soup. But who cares? A yummy winter soup is a thing of culinary beauty and a joy to sup forever.

Here it is then, adapted to lower the calorie count and replace missing ingredients. I forgot to buy the required Vidalia onion and celery so I used leek and carrot. Furthermore, I didn’t have “Madras-style” curry.

Did you think curry was just curry? So did I. However, in addition to “Madras-style,” I’ve now also seen a recipe that calls for “Mexican” curry! Who can keep up with such fast-moving trends?

Throw caution to the wind, I say, and use whatever’s in the spice drawer.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (but without the cream)

Thick and delicious!

I’m not a winter person, but I sure do love the warm soups and thick stews that come with the season. This particular soup happened because I found discounted mushrooms whose best days were behind them, and bought 2.5 lbs. Believe me, that’s a lot of mushrooms. But I have a motto for situations like this.

When in doubt because of quantity and/or quality, make soup!

So I did, and this soup turned out to be the best mushroom soup I’d ever made: delicious, thick, comforting, low in calories, and a cinch to make. What makes it creamy? Using as little liquid as possible…

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Creamy Tomato-Quinoa Soup

Remember when tomatoes tasted like tomatoes? No? Well…you may have to be of a certain age. Today, the only time tomatoes come close to tasting like the real thing is during the harvest season when field tomatoes are available.

FYI: According to a New York Times article, scientists have recently discovered “a genetic reason that diminishes a tomato’s flavor even if the fruit is picked ripe and coddled.” Briefly, producers, appealing to consumers who wanted lush red tomatoes, unwittingly bred in a mutation that reduces the sugars that contributed to the tomato taste. Sigh.

So…back in my kitchen where I’ve purchased baskets of field tomatoes whose lives will end in my soup pot.

In the early days of this blog, I posted a family favourite soup in which a small amount of peanut butter, rather than cream, was added to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes and make it okay for the lactose-intolerant. Now I’ve upgraded the original recipe by adding a dollop of cooked quinoa for some healthy protein and crunch.

This soup is creamy, rich, and delicious—hot or cold.

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Basic Cold Summer Soups

This post comes to you via the dieter’s never-ending question, “How do I gorge on vegetables today?” And it comes with a picture of Cold Creamy Cauliflower Soup, made last summer.

In the winter, it’s fine to roast vegetables but, in the summer, you want something cool, refreshing, and delicious to drink. But you can’t guzzle down what everyone else can: beer, soda, fruit juices, mint juleps, etc. Even that old fallback, diet soda, is getting a bad rap.

Have you ever considered a cold, delicious, vegetable soup?

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Cauliflower-Turnip Vichyssoise

A true vichyssoise is a thick soup that includes potatoes and cream. Regrettably, it is outside of my dietary bounds, no matter how much I love it or try to alter it with low-cal milks.

So I was utterly delighted with this culinary experiment. The soup looks like a vichyssoise! It tastes like a vichyssoise! (Well…okay…sorta…)

The spouse even agreed the soup was good and then said suspiciously, “What’s in it?” Yes, he knows me well.

The experiment began, as many of them do, at the discounted vegetable rack where I picked up 2 heads of cauliflower and 14 turnips. (I didn’t quite expect so many in the bag, but I hadn’t counted them either.)

After I got home, I realized I had something of a turnip dilemma. Why not, I reasoned, add a couple of turnips to my Creamy Cauliflower Soup?

Why not? As it turned out, the two vegetables have a lovely, toning-down touch on each other’s flavour. The taste is a subtle, happy mix of the two, and the soup is smooth, creamy, and delicious, hot or cold.

“Turnip!” the spouse said. “I knew it!” I beg to differ.

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Tomato Split-Pea Lentil Soup with Carrot and Cumin

This tomato-y soup is a blend of delightful flavours and textures.  It is slightly…

  • spicy from the cumin.
  • sweet from the carrot.
  • smooth from the tomatoes.
  • crunchy from the onion and lentils.

It’s also rich, filling (great for winter’s cold days), and very easy to make: only five main ingredients and a minimum of chopping.

Enjoy!

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Tomato Soup with Spinach Meatballs

As the weather gets colder, my taste buds yearn for hot, hearty soups.  This tomato soup is thick, rich, aromatic, and a dinner unto itself.  Two things set it apart from spaghetti sauce: the emphasis on fresh basil (it has no oregano), and the meatballs are made of spinach and three types of meat, rather than just beef.

This dish can be eaten simply as a soup or with noodles or rice.  If you’re dieting and want to add noodles, consider using shirataki which is almost pure fiber and won’t add to your calorie count.  Also, you can make the soup thicker (as I did) by using canned crushed tomatoes as well as diced tomatoes.

I was making this soup with two of my grandchildren who are avid beginner cooks.  To keep them busy and feed their early teen appetites, I decided to triple the meatball mixture called for in the original recipe.  Feel free to cut back if you prefer.

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Creamy Broccoli Soup

Forgive me, but I’m on on a soup roll.  After satisfying myself that Creamy Cauliflower Soup makes a terrific cold drink on a hot summer day as well as, I’m sure, a fabulous hot soup on a cold winter day, I turned to broccoli and gave it the purée treatment.  Voilà!  An equally delicious, refreshing, filling, and easy-to-make soup.

The photo is of my lunch today—Creamy Broccoli Soup, with soy milk swirled in, and a piece of Sweet Quinoa Cornbread. Yum!

 

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Cooking tip for making a thick and creamy soup: The correct amount of broth is tricky because vegetables often shrink and also contain their own liquids.  To ensure that the soup will not be too thin, remove 1-2 cups of broth after the cooking is finished and before you start blending.  After a first blend, you’ll know if it needs more broth.  Add in ¼ cup increments until you reach the desired creaminess.

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of broccoli, washed, trimmed, and chopped into big chunks
  • 6 cups of chicken broth (vegetables can be above the water line; they will reduce while cooking)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped into big chunks
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  •  Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Before blending, remove 1 cup of liquid and hold in reserve.
  4. Purée soup with a hand blender or in a processor until smooth.  If the purée is too thick for your taste, add the 1-2 cups of liquid held in reserve.  (If not, you can throw away the liquid or save it as a vegetable broth.)
  5. Put container of soup in the refrigerator until cold.
  6. Pour out a glass and, if you prefer, mix in a tablespoon of goat yogurt or soy milk.

For Weight Watchers: Unless you’ve added a “countable” amount of yogurt or milk, any size serving is 0 points on the Points and PointsPlus plans.

Tomato-Basil Egg Drop Soup

I grew up with a basic egg drop soup because my mother used to make it when we were recuperating from some illness.  As a kid, I liked the way the stirred eggs, mixed with parmesan cheese, would burst into tiny “flowers” when the mixture was dripped into a boiling broth.  It also tasted good, too.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized our non-Italian family was eating a very well-known Italian soup: stracciatella.

This delicious version includes tomato and spices, all of which enhance the original, delicate flavour.  It’s also a lot more elegant and would be great for a dinner party.  And you could verbally dress it up for guests by calling it “Tomato-Basil Stracciatella.”  Sounds a whole lot more impressive than a soup for kids with tetchy stomachs!

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2-4 servings

Cooking tip: Although making a hot soup in summer may not seem entirely logical, this soup benefits from freshly grown basil and local, ripe tomatoes—summer ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¾ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of basil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup sheep romano cheese, grated
  • 2-4 tbsp. of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, and chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, add ½ cup of chicken broth, garlic, diced tomatoes, and sprig of basil.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While this mixture is cooking, whisk eggs, cheese, and herbs together in a small bowl  until frothy.
  4. Add rest of broth to cooking pot and bring to a full boil.
  5. Stirring constantly, slowly drip the egg mixture into the boiling broth.
  6. Reduce heat, simmer for 2-3 minutes, and remove basil sprig.
  7. Taste to adjust seasonings.

For Weight Watchers: The point value depends on how many servings you decide to make.  The total overall point value of the soup is 6 points on the Points and PointsPlus plans.  Divide this amount by the number of servings.

(Adapted from “Tomato Stracciatella” by Martha Rose Shulman, published in The New York Times.)