We all have our comfort foods, the ones we reach for when disaster strikes, when sorrow is on the rise, when we’re lonely, or just when the weather turns wet and cold. Mine is and always will be tomato soup. I can eat it anytime and anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of winter or the hottest day of a blistering summer in the deserts of Southern Utah, I will forever want a good cup of tomato soup when I need comfort.
Why? It reminds me of huddling in the downstairs bathroom during tornado warnings when I lived in Louisiana. It was scary, but also a time we came together as a family. We would curl up in blankets inside the bathtub and play card games by candlelight as my dad warmed tomato soup on a little gas stove and we’d shiver together at the wind that set our old home to creaking. Good times. Seriously, these are some of my favorite memories.
So I turn to tomato soup often. It used to be just from a can. Then I started adding a dash of Italian herbs and granulated garlic, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to make my own versions of my comfort food and make them healthier. I know I’m very lucky to have a fairly healthy comfort food to begin with, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks fondly of warm tomato soup. Make it your comfort food. I’m going to share my most recent version, as it is always evolving as my taste changes and my desire to be healthier grows. Get a good dose of lycopene, vitamin A, and some good antioxidants along with plenty of soul warming comfort.
Homemade Tomato Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- 2 inches of a large leek, sliced and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 6–8 medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 12 ounces vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon molasses (This cuts the acid. You can also use coconut sugar or honey.)
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- Dash cayenne powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- (Optional: additional vegetables. More vegetables add more depth, flavor, and antioxidants. I like red bell pepper and zucchini, but I’ve used crookneck squash, cucumber, spinach, and even turnips. Fresh herbs are always better too.)
In a tall soup pan, heat the oil and sauté the leeks, garlic, and celery until the leeks are golden and translucent. Add carrots, tomatoes, and any additional vegetables and raise heat to high. Stir for 5–10 minutes as the tomatoes soften and break down. Add vegetable stock, spices, vinegar, and molasses and lower heat to medium. Simmer for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. If you don’t have these exact spices, mix it up by substituting in parsley, rosemary, basil, ginger, turmeric, or even cumin. Each spice adds their own unique mix of flavors, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or allow it to cool slightly before blending it in a traditional blender or food processor in small batches. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or fresh herb of your choice.
The recipe is super easy and takes under 30 minutes to make. It can be frozen and saved for those winter months when good organic tomatoes are harder to come by and the warming comfort of tomato soup can do the most good, or eaten whenever you need a boost. I hope you enjoy a bit of the best of my childhood . . . minus any tornados or power outages.