For years I have been making The Barefoot Contessa’s Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup every summer. Yes. We’ve established that I love soup all year round, but tomato soup is best made in the summer because that’s when tomatoes are at their peak season. They are no longer picked green, shipped up from Mexico, and ripened to an anemic red with ethylene gas before they make it to your grocery store. During summer tomatoes are a beautiful deep red, bursting with flavor and juicy sweetness. They are plentiful at the farmers markets and ripe for the picking off of back yard vines. And because of this, I make fresh tomato soup every summer and freeze several jars so that we can savor the fresh flavors of summer on bleak winter evenings.
However, as much as I’ve loved the recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, it’s full of heavy cream, refined sugar, chicken stock, and “good” olive oil (whatever that means). It’s got too many strikes against it to be considered healthy. After my oldest begged me to make tomato soup for dinner while I was working on the next week’s meal plan, I took a second look at the recipe to see how I could make it more whole foods, plant based friendly.
Removing the oil and switching the chicken stock for vegetable stock was pretty simple, but finding a replacement for the sugar and cream was a little trickier. What is both sweet and creamy and will add a velvety texture without changing the flavor profile of the soup?
A sweet potato. That’s what!
A diced sweet potato added to the soup while it simmers will add a natural sweetness, a creamier texture, and a nice dose of beta carotene, vitamin c, and fiber. Never underestimate the power of plants, people!
The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe that I used as a guideline calls for the soup to be run through a food mill in order to sort out all of the tomato skins and seeds and results in a very velvety final texture. Truth be told, I don’t own a food mill, and I’ve never actually seen one in a store. I’ve always used either an immersion blender or a high speed blender like my Ninja (super carefully because the soup will be hot!). The final texture isn’t as smooth as say a canned condensed soup, but it’s fairly smooth. I guess you would call it “rustic,” though I’ve never heard any complaints!
While this soup isn’t the quickest meal I’ve posted, you’ll still be able to have dinner on the table in around 45 minutes, which is not too shabby considering that you should have some leftovers to freeze for later, as this batch makes about 8+ servings. If you really want to speed up your cooking time, I suggest snatching up a little veggie chopper. I set it up right next to my cast iron dutch oven on the stove and chop all my veggies super quick with very minimal knife skills (I haz no skillz).
No tomato soup is complete without some type of sandwich to dip in it, so I made vegan grilled cheeses using Follow Your Heart’s American Cheddar slices. Since they are made with a coconut oil base, they are a total treat food in our house, because you know how I feel about oil. In order to make grilled sandwiches for 5 people all at one time, I bake them in the oven between 2 parchment paper lined baking trays (400 degrees for 8-10 minutes). If you leave the baking trays in the oven to warm while the oven is preheating and then carefully place the sandwiches between the trays to bake, you’ll have golden brown, crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside sandwiches without any added oil/butter or babysitting them on the stove. #momhack
Hidden Veggie Tomato Soup
adapted from Barefoot Contessa
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced (or 4 small ones)
- 1 small/medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 TBS tomato paste
- 4 pounds vine ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 1 TBS salt, or to taste
- 1/2 TBS freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
- Heat a large heavy pot on the stove over medium heat.
- Add the onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes to the pot and dry sauté for 8-10 minutes, until tender. You can add a splash of water or stock to the pot if the vegetables are sticking.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring well.
- Add the tomato paste and stir well for 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, basil, and stock. Stir well.
- Bring the soup to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender or by transferring a few cups at a time to the blender, process the soup until it’s smooth.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with some crusty bread or a grilled sandwich. Store any leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days or in glass jars in the freezer for 3-6 months.
Do you love soup all year round or think it’s best left for the cooler months? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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