Easy Fat-Free Vegan Tomato Soup
Given the recent study that was released, showing a low-fat vegan diet is the best way to reduce heart disease risk factors in children, I thought it is a great time to showcase one of my family’s staple meals: tomato soup. If you’re like me, you grew up with tomato soup as the ultimate comfort food. When I was a kid, I would have a can of Campbell’s tomato soup with a buttery grilled cheese sandwich and it would warm up my whole world. Today, I make my own, homemade tomato soup, which takes just about the same amount of effort as the canned version, but is much, much healthier. Instead of an unhealthy sandwich of refined white bread holding together a clump of gooey animal fats, I ladle my homemade comfort soup over brown rice and voila! I have instant, healthy, completely fat-free vegan comfort food for the whole family.
One of the biggest complaints in the heart disease study I examined yesterday was that vegan foods with no added fat were more expensive and difficult to find. I believe that if people only knew how easy it is to replicate traditional unhealthy processed foods at home they would no longer rely on the processed versions. Tomato soup is amazing and it is also amazingly easy to make a delicious version to rival anything you can get in a can.
I guess I have become a bit of a tomato soup connoisseur. I have tried and tested dozens of tomato soup recipes. Some I like better, some less. My all-time favorite tomato soup recipe is one I picked up from the cookbook “Market Vegetarian: Easy Organic Recipes for Every Occasion” by Ross Dobson. It’s a bit more time consuming, however, with the added step of roasting the vegetables prior to turning them into soup. When I was single, I was happy to take that extra step, but as a busy mom… who has time for that?! I want tomato soup, I want it now, and I don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes of active time making it!
I will admit this is a bit of a cheat recipe for me. One day nearly two years ago, my husband came home with a masticating slow juicer and a surprise – a soup maker! At the time we joked that it was a “wife replacer” because my husband is obsessed with soup, so we have soup as a meal almost every day of the week, especially when the weather is cool, but even frequently when the weather is hot. I asked him why I would need such an item when I make so much soup on the stove. But I have since changed my tune. While I still make a lot of my soups on the stove or in my trusty crock pot, the soup maker has become my go-to for quick soups. This recipe is one example of a recipe I love to just toss in and let go, but if you don’t have a soup maker, don’t worry. I’ll provide easy instructions. It might take an extra couple of minutes of time, but it still won’t be much more involvement than making a can of soup would be!
One thing I love about this recipe is that you can use up whatever tomatoes are around. If I end up with a lot of tomatoes that are just too ripe to make salad with, into this soup they go. If I have a few tomatoes with spots, I cut them out and toss the good parts in the pot. If I have too many tomatoes or if they are in season and I can pick up a case for cheap, I make a massive quantity of this soup and into the freezer it goes for future consumption on a lazy day. My baby is obsessed with tomatoes, so anything that tastes like tomatoes is an instant winner with him.
Another great thing about this recipe is that it is really versatile. You can mix it up and add in all sorts of different flavors and even different ingredients. You can make it thicker or thinner. You can add fat or not. You can add dairy or not. Or you can just make it as is. After all, it only calls for four ingredients! What’s not to love?!
Easy Vegan Tomato Soup
10-12 tomatoes (depending on size)
1/2 medium onion, preferably red
2 large cloves garlic
~2 cups vegetable broth
(pinch salt, if your broth is a low-sodium version)
- (Optional) Put 2 cups of brown rice and 4 cups of water in a rice cooker and set to cook.
- Quarter your onion half, peel your garlic, and add them to your pot (or soup maker).
- Quarter your tomatoes – approximately 12 roma tomatoes, 9 vine ripened, or 6 beef tomatoes. If using giant beef tomatoes, you should cut them in eights instead of quarters.
- Add tomatoes to the pot and add broth to just below the tomatoes (not too much unless you want a very watery soup). If your broth is low sodium, you should add a pinch of salt here. Salt helps bring out the flavor of tomatoes.
- Plug in soup maker, set on “smooth” setting, and go relax until it beeps.
- Put on the stovetop on medium-high and cook for approximately 30 minutes. Watch to be sure it does not boil over – if it begins to boil reduce to a simmer. Stir at 20 and 25 minute marks.
- Pour soup into a blender and blend until smooth, approximately 1 minute.
- Place a mound of brown rice in a bowl, pour soup over, and serve.
- If you’re not going for the fat-free version, I find a small amount of oil can help make this soup taste a bit more creamy. Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the bottom of the pot before adding all your other ingredients.
- Try a red pepper and tomato soup. I know this is a flavor of soup I’ve seen in the organic brands at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Just substitute a red capsicum/bell pepper for a couple of the tomatoes. You don’t need more than one really big one or two smaller ones to get a good flavor.
- Add fresh herbs. Almost any fresh herbs will work – tomatoes are so versatile and seem to work in pretty much any cuisine I’ve ever found. Toss in some leaves of fresh basil just before blending. Fresh oregano, rosemary, and thyme are great. Add a nice big sprig of rosemary or thyme and remove just before blending, or sprinkle just a bit on top and blend it in. Or try dried herb blends, like an Italian herb blend.
- Add spices. Spice mixes give a fantastic foreign dimension to this all too traditional American soup. Add some curry powder, moroccan spice mix, or even Mexican taco seasoning for an all-new experience.
- Add some dairy. Keep it vegan by topping your bowl of soup with some cashew sour cream, or splurge and go for the real thing. Or sprinkle some cheddar or shredded pepper jack cheese on top. Mix cream or whole (full cream) milk throughout before serving to turn it into a cream of tomato soup.
- Double, triple, quadruple this recipe… it freezes well and doesn’t take much effort to double. You will need to extend the cooking time before blending so the increased amount of liquid and vegetables come to the right temperature. Once it comes to a boil, reduce and simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring 10 and 15 minutes into the simmering.
I hope you can see that this soup is soup-er easy (I couldn’t resist). It is also incredibly versatile. I think it tastes just as good as the tinned kind – no, better! Because it’s made with fresh tomatoes, it has that mouthwatering fresh flavor no tinned version ever could. And with all the possible variations your family will never get bored. You can play with the flavor variations endlessly!
For families with kids in school, consider making this in the morning and sending it for lunch in a thermos. In a good thermos it should still be hot enough to eat at lunchtime. Send it with a container of brown rice on the side your child can spoon in as they go. In other parts of the world, soup for lunch is a standard, but in western society it is much less common. Your child will no doubt really enjoy the change!
I hope you enjoy this easy and tasty recipe. Please let me know what variations you have tried and how you like them!