Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I love its tart sweetness, especially on a cold winter’s evening, and make no apologies for it. But now, such sugar-laden, processed foods are contraband and it is time to rethink a soup that is naturally sweet and nourishing both to body and soul.
Manufacturers add sugar to their foods because it is a cheap and quick way to sweeten, rather than focus on long slow cooking that brings out the natural sweetness of a dish. To further concentrate the sweetness, I use organic vine cherry tomatoes and organic roasted red peppers, ingredients that are naturally sweet.
The Thai ingredients reflect the 14 years I spent in the East. On my return to the UK, I used to put tiny tomberry tomatoes - that are only available at Sainsbury - into my green Thai curries, something my kids loved as the tomberries would burst in the mouth giving a real acid sweetness that was the perfect foil to the heat. This soup is an extension of this idea.
Weaning yourself off sugar in all its forms is difficult, and there is a need for tasty dishes that override what adding sugar is designed to do - a cheat’s way to add flavour; this soup is designed to maximise its natural sweetness.
I served this soup up to the participants of a workshop we were hosting, and one said it was the best tomato soup they had ever tasted. In the flavour department, I think this has pretty much cracked it.
This is a soup best made in advance. Vegetable soups are always better a day after making when the flavours have had time to develop.
The addition of pumpkin seeds as a garnish not only adds a welcome crunch but is an excellent source of magnesium and zinc, together with iron, manganese and copper.
Zinc is a particularly difficult mineral to obtain in the diet as plants are able to thrive in zinc deficient soils, yet zinc is a mineral required for over 60 different enzyme processes in the body, including the enzyme required for breaking down alcohol. I will be discussing zinc in more detail in later blogs and will be writing recipes that provide this essential mineral, but suffice to say finding a way to add zinc to the diet is always a clever thing to do, most especially with a CanSur diagnosis.
The miso paste and liquid aminos add much needed umami – savouriness – to the soup. Umami, a Japanese term, balances out the sweet, sour, bitter and saltiness of food, and is a little like the base note of a perfume.
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 inch piece fresh organic ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped
1 large Kaffir lime leaf (from Sainsbury’s) shredded
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
650 g organic cherry tomatoes, blitzed in a processor
2 large red peppers (not Romano peppers)
2 tsp liquid aminos or organic tamari
1 tsp organic barley miso paste
400 g can coconut milk
1-2 birdseye red chilli, roughly chopped
1 scant tsp organic vegetable bouillion
1 tbs coconut oil
½ tsp pink Himalayan salt
400 ml filtered water (or more depending on thickness)
1 cup of Healing Intent **
Finely sliced chives
Handful of pumpkin seeds
1. Set the oven to 180C. Wash and cut the red peppers in half and remove the seeds and stalks. Place them on a baking tray, cut side down, and roast in the oven for 40 minutes until soft. Remove and cover the peppers with a clean tea towel and leave for 20 minutes or so or until cool enough to handle. Peel the peppers and set aside.
2. Add the cumin and coriander seeds to a pan and toast lightly until beginning to pop. Remove from the pan, and lightly grind in a coffee grinder or give them a quick bashing in a pestle and mortar. Do not blitz them into a powder.
3. Melt the coconut oil in a pan and add the garlic, ginger, onion, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaf, cumin, coriander and chilli and coat in the oil. Cover with a disk of greaseproof paper and cook over a low heat until softened but not coloured. This should take around 7 minutes and will concentrate the natural sweetness of the ingredients.
4. Add the cherry tomatoes to the mixture and continue to cook for a further 7 minutes with the greaseproof disk, then remove the greaseproof disk and add the coconut milk, liquid aminos, organic vegetable bouillon, barley miso paste and filtered water. Cook for a further 30 minutes on a low heat without the disk, then let it cool for 30 minutes or so.
5. Place the soup in a Vitamix blender (or food processor), add the peeled red peppers and blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The soup will be quite thick, and the lemongrass can sometimes be a little fibrous, so if you wish pass through a sieve for a smoother soup. If too thick, dilute with a little water.
6. To serve: Serve hot and sprinkle with chopped chives and pumpkin seeds.
** Healing Intent: when cooking foods to heal the body it is important to set your intent. The best way to do this is imagine that you are cooking this dish for yourself or for someone you love who is very ill and that this dish is the only thing that will help in their healing. You will find that the way you handle the food will change, and will not only result in a better dish, but you will feel the food actually nourishing your body and spirit.