What could be better on a chilly day than a hot bowl of tomato soup? I have an answer to that – on a chilly day, the only thing better than a hot bowl of tomato soup is a hot bowl of tomato soup that is waiting for you, nearly complete, when you walk in the door with two pool-soaked “freezing cold” six year old swimmers.
I should confess that as a child I was never a tomato soup eater – the ever present Campbell’s soup can didn’t do a thing for me, but Mr. Little Sis was a huge fan. I was always happy to simply eat the grilled cheese that usually accompanied a great bowl of tomato soup. As my love affair with the tomato became a permanent state, however, I’ve given this simple dish another chance. In the past I found that creamy versions usually were my preference, but in more recent days, I’ve avoided creamy soup. What to do?
I was confident someone on the vast internet had conquered the creamy tomato soup with no cream conundrum, and lo and behold, I was correct. I stumbled onto a recipe that uses beans to thicken, fortify, and give soup some body. Being the me that I am, I took the recipe to heart and promptly began changing it to meet my increasingly particular standards. The result was a creamy and flavorful soup that was warming to the toes, each bite full of tomato goodness. Smoked paprika evokes roasted goodness and smoky warmth. So flavorful, and so perfectly simple.
- 2 1/2 c chickpeas
- 4 c water or bean broth*
- 2 T Bragg’s or soy sauce
- 1 large can or box chopped tomatoes (or 6 ripe if in season)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp sugar (I used turbinado, but I imagine others would work just fine)
- 2 carrots, rough chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, rough chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (you could sub out a VERY small bit of chipotle to get some smoky flavor without bite – similar strategy to my Smoky Baba Ghanoush)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1 c milk (I used coconut milk)
- chopped parsley (opt.)
This is an easy-peasy lemon squeezy dinner, friends. It is also easily adapted for the amount of time and effort that you are able to give it.
SUPER EASY APPROACH: Put everything but the milk in the slow cooker, turn it on low and cook for 6-7 hours. Puree with immersion or regular blender. Add coconut milk (or whatever you’re using) and stir. Serve with parsley garnish (if you’re fancy and like a little spring zing, which I am and I do).
SLIGHTLY MORE EFFORT: Sauté veggies in olive oil for a few minutes (5-10) before dumping in crock pot to give them a head start on softening. Add to slow cooker with all ingredients except for milk. Turn on low for 5 hours. Stir in milk. Garnish and serve.
We enjoyed our fabulous soup with some homemade multigrain bread (which I’ll be sure to share with you in the coming days) and a simple salad. Nourishing, warming, and delish.
* Bean broth, for the uninitiated, is simply the water that is leftover when you cook dried beans to prepare them for including in a dish. Dried beans are not terribly convenient, and I will be the first to admit that I keep a can or two of beans on hand for emergency burritos; however, canned beans are prone to having extra ingredients (like sodium and other stuff you really don’t need in there), and are terribly expensive when compared to dried beans. You know I’m cheap, so when I can manage it, I try to use dried – and I ALWAYS make extra – just like I do with grains. Extra beans can be used to make hummus (black bean or garbanzo, or herbed white bean) or can be frozen for use in tomato soup another night.
When cooking beans, I have come to rely on the procedures described in Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. This is a wonderful book Bigg Sis gave me when my twins were born, chock full of healthful food for little people, and lots of practical suggestions for the inexperienced home cook. Following Yaron’s instructions, I performed a “quick” soak on my beans by bringing 2 cups of beans (I used garbanzo and navy beans) to a boil in many cups of water. I let them boil vigorously for 2 minutes and then let the beans sit in the hot water on the stove for an hour. This makes the beans as tender as they would be after soaking overnight (something I am rarely organized enough to do). I drained the beans and refilled the pot with fresh water (about 3 c water to 1 c beans), brought the beans to a boil and cooked them for about 30 minutes.
The cooking time varies by bean, and Yaron gives a very helpful chart with details for each bean. When mine were adequately soft, I drained the beans through a sieve placed in a bowl to preserve the broth. After draining, I poured bean broth into ice cube trays to save it for another use. I got about 8 cubes from one cup of broth. When I exhausted my ice cube trays, I used the egg tray that came with my refrigerator – in this case 1 cup of broth created 10 broth ova, betcha never thought you’d have bean broth ova! My next batch of soup will have a hearty broth full of the body and nutrition from my super cheap little beanie friends. Ain’t life grand? Until next time, may all your soups be simple and comforting!
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