With all the dismal, wet, cold weather we've been having, a big pot of homemade soup on the stovetop is no longer an option--it's a NECESSITY!! Several of my darling family members have been dropping not so subtle soup hints for the last 48 hours, so in the interest of keeping my crew happy, I whipped up a pot of this light but very satisfying Quick "Cream-Free" Creamy Tomato Soup for lunch yesterday. And for a moment, all was sunny and bright in my kitchen, as people were busy slurping up that healthy tomato goodness. Ah, the power of soup!
Lest you've forgotten, today is Day 3 of eating healthy around here. So far it's been doable, even pretty painless I must admit, although if this weather keeps up, you're going to find me in the pantry stealing a handful of chocolate chips!! But no talk of cheating--we're here to talk about this delightfully creamy and seemingly decadent, cream-free tomato soup. Sure, you could just open a can but with only a little bit more work you can enjoy a bowl of hot rich tomato soup without all of the additives, artificial stuff and salt that canned soup has. And as the title plainly states (what is it with my lengthy titles lately?) there isn't a drop of cream or milk in this at all. The velvety texture is achieved by pureeing soup-softened sandwich bread into the mixture. Weird? Yes. But also, really really tasty and comforting too!
The soup is great on it's own as a light lunch or a first course for dinner but also wonderful with the addition of a little rice (my husband's request) or pasta. Don't you wish you could just dive in right now?!! If you keep a couple of cans of peeled whole tomatoes on hand, you can whip this up in about 30 minutes, pretty much any time you get a hankering for it. And that thought is almost enough to get you through the January blues!!! (I won't deny that the occasional addition of chocolate has been known to work wonders as well!)
Quick "Cream-free" Creamy Tomato Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
Prep Time: About 30 minutes
You will need a blender, food processor or handheld immersion blender for this.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Two 28 ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes with juice
- 3 slices white sandwich bread, crusts cut off and ripped into 1-inch pieces (I used Pepperidge Farm Sandwich white)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh chives minced to top soup with (optional)
- Cooked rice or small pasta to add in at end (optional)
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and red pepper flakes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is softened. Add the two cans of tomatoes and their juice and use a potato masher to mash up the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Stir in the pieces of bread and the brown sugar and raise the heat to high. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes, until the bread starts to break down. Remove the bay leaf and throw away.
2. If you have an immersion blender, now is the time to use it. Add the 2 remaining tablespoons of oil and puree the mixture in the pot, until entirely smooth. If not, in 2 or three batches, puree the soup in the blender or food processor, splitting the tablespoons of oil up amongst the 2 additions.
3. Once the soup is entirely smooth, stir in the broth and return the soup to a boil. Stir well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately as is or topped with fresh chives and a scoop or two of cooked rice or pasta.
4. Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead, stored in an airtight container in the fridge and reheated.
Note: Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated All Time Best Soups.