Although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the weather, it is technically fall. New Orleans is still warm and humid with it’s citizens still sporting shorts and tons of deodorant. No matter then weather, my heart and stomach know that it’s fall. I know that I should be donning big comfy sweaters, sipping hot cocoa and eat warm, filling soups. I may not be able to control the weather, but I do control what happens in my kitchen. That’s why I decided to make fat-free, vegan tomato basil soup.
I did a lot of research before making this recipe. There are a lot of excellent recipes out there and there are tons of opinions when it comes to how to make the perfect soup. What types of tomatoes to use, whether or not to use plant milk, what method to use to cook the tomatoes, etc. I believe I took the best advices out there and put together this thick, creamy, flavorful soup.
I used three different types of tomatoes to add depth to the soup: roma, creole and cherry tomatoes. I started by roasting the roma and creole tomatoes in the oven. Simply cut them in half, lay them cut side up on a large baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.
About 20 minutes into the roasting process I start working on the rest of the soup ingredients. First thing, as always, is to sauté the onion. The onion I bought was gigantic. Like James and the Giant Peach gigantic. I ended up only using half. Chopped that baby up and threw it in a medium sized pot with a little bit of unsalted vegetable broth. I like to cook my onions and garlic in vegetable broth because I find that it gives a little extra flavor. It also gives it a beautiful browned color that you wouldn’t normally expect to get when you’re not using oil.
I like to let the onions soften a bit before adding my garlic. Garlic cooks up a lot faster than the onions and nothing is worse than burnt garlic. Literally nothing. The garlic will let me know when it’s ready by emitting their wonderful fragrance.
Once the garlic tells you it’s ready, add the whole cherry tomatoes and a half cup of unsalted vegetable broth. Let this come to a boil and then turn the fire down a bit, cover the pot and let it stew.
After about 10 to 15 minutes the tomatoes will begin to lose their skins and will begin to cook down. At this point, I used my wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes. Continue to let them cook down while the large tomatoes finish roasting. Once the larger tomatoes finish roasting, carefully add them to the stewed tomato mix.
(Above: The skins starting to separate from the tomatoes. Below: After mashing the tomatoes a bit)
(Above: Tomatoes post-roast. Below: Roasted tomatoes added to the the pot.)
Now comes the fun part, the herbs and spices! This is where I think the soup is made. Without the basil, it’s just tomato soup. I added basil for obvious reasons, thyme to add a little sweetness and red pepper flakes for a little heat and dimension. To make sure it’s a soup and not a sauce, you’ll want to add some liquid. Again, I chose to use the unsalted vegetable broth, but you could use water instead.
Now you just let the soup do it’s thing. Bring it to a boil, turn down to simmer, cover it and wait. In 40 minutes your home will smell like little Italy, reminding you just how wonderful of a job you have done.
The final step is to puree the soup. You can either use a blender, a food processor or an immersion blender. I used my Vitamix blender. I let the soup cool a bit before attempting to put it in the blender. I’m prone to accidents and hot soup plus electric kitchen appliances sound like an accident waiting to happen. Although I could have made it work in one batch, I blended this in two batches. Not a big deal. I didn’t make the soup completely smooth. I wanted it to have texture. I was very pleased with the end result.
Tomato Basil Soup
- 2 pounds mixed large tomatoes
- 2 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups basil
- 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 large yellow onion OR 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice large tomatoes in half and place on large baking sheet, cut side up. Roast in oven for 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sauté onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about two minutes.
- Add cherry tomatoes to the onion/garlic mix along with 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, turn down the fire to allow it to simmer and cover the pot.
- Cook the cherry tomatoes for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the skins start to separate from he tomatoes and they start to stew down. Gently mash them down with a large spoon or potato masher. Cover and continue to cook until the large tomatoes are finished roasting.
- Carefully add the large tomatoes, including their juices, to the onion/garlic/tomato mixture.
- Add all remaining ingredients.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat allowing it to simmer. Cover the mixture and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once the 40 minutes have elapsed, turn off the fire. Using either an immersion blender, a high powered blender or a food processor, carefully puree the soup to your desired consistency. This may be done in batches.
- Serve with a salad, potato, corn, bread or sandwich and enjoy.