Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tomato Basil Soup

I've made this soup more than half a dozen times but I never get sick of it, and neither does my man♥. The sweetness of the honey pairs so well with the sourness of the balsamic vinegar, and let's not forget the numerous spices - cumin, fennel seed, and paprika - that make this soup much more than your average tomato basil soup. Very important is the fresh basil (so much better than dried basil), but if you can't find fresh basil, I highly recommend the dried basil made by Morton & Bassett. It's a San Francisco-based company that makes very high quality herbs that are all-natural, non-irradiated and contain no preservatives or additives.

For a tasty non-vegetarian version, add meatballs (pictured below), although I love the vegetarian version just as much! For the version with meatballs, simply season about 3 pounds of ground beef with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper, then form 1½-inch meatballs, and sauté them in butter or extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat until browned. Add the meatballs along with honey and balsamic vinegar.

Also, without the chicken stock, this makes a wonderful pasta sauce, especially with grated parmesan cheese.

Btw, cooked tomatoes contain more lycopene (the antioxidant that gives tomatoes its red hue and has twice as much antioxidant power than vitamin E) than raw tomatoes. There is also evidence that cooking tomatoes in extra-virgin olive oil seems to increase the body's ability to absorb lycopene.

Tomato Basil Soup
Adapted from Gourmet Nutrition

• 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1½ teaspoon black pepper
• 8-9 medium tomatoes, diced
• ½ cup fresh basil
• 1 yellow onion
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
• 2 teaspoons paprika
• 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock
• 4 tablespoons honey
• 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat a large pot on medium-high heat. Add oil and onions, and sauté until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add garlic, cumin, fennel, paprika, 4 tablespoons of broth, and sauté for 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Now add the remaining broth, balsamic vinegar, honey, and simmer for 30 minutes, continue stirring occasionally. Add the salt, pepper, and basil and remove from heat.

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