Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil Topping and a Very Interesting Salad Dressing

For the mid afternoon meal with my parents I have discovered that cooked food seems to be more acceptable. Since we were out of soup I decided to make a giant pot of soup to have for lunch today and then leftovers for the early part of the week.

Dan enjoyed the tomato basil soup he had a Teavolve late last week and asked me to a version of it. Since I haven’t tried that soup yet I went with something that sounded good to me. I wanted to use a few different vegetables in the soup so that it had a tomato base but was also a blend of other subtle vegetable flavors. Instead of adding the basil to the soup I opted to make basil topping that is a cross between pesto and salsa verde. This way I could use the topping on the soup or sandwiches. This gives me more flexibility to change the soup each time I serve it since you now know I like to do that with leftovers after seeing all the options with the chickpea and zucchini soup. Here is the how I made the base soup today:

Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil Topping
Makes 10 – approximately 1 ½ cup servings


5 carrots. cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced (so you don’t end up with stringy bits in your smooth soup)
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 whole head of garlic peeled
12 cups of peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup raw cashews
black pepper, to taste


Cooked brown rice (I prefer basmati)
Basil topping (recipe below)


In your blender (or food processor) puree the carrots, celery, onion and garlic with some of the tomatoes until it is smooth. You may need to do this in batches. Puree the tomatoes and tomato paste as well and add that to the pot. Allow the mixture to stand 10 minutes, off the heat so the allicin in the garlic and health benefits in the onions (thiopropanal sulfoxide) have time to develop. Once 10 minutes has passed simmer the soup for an hour or hour and half. You want the pungent raw onion and garlic flavor to be cooked out of the soup.

Take a few ladles of the soup and return it to your blender. Add the raw cashews to the blender and process until smooth. Add this to the pot and stir it into the soup. Cook for another 10 minutes.

When you are almost ready to serve make the basil topping (recipe below). You don’t want to make that too soon since the basil will oxidize and turn brown. I like to store the mixture in a covered container with plastic wrap on top to slow the oxidization. You can also add spinach or parsley to help the color stay green, or cover the top with a thin film of oil to keep the oxygen from the basil.

To serve place a grain on the bottom of the bowl (if using) top with soup and finish with the basil topping.

Nutritional Information (do not include grain or basil topping):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 130.48
Calories From Fat (31%) - 40.27

Total Fat - 4.81g
Saturated Fat - 0.83g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 78.14mg
Potassium - 790.38mg
Total Carbohydrates - 20.2g
Fiber - 4.99g
Sugar - 8.85g
Protein - 4.86g


This is not your mother’s cream of tomato soup. The flavor is a blend of vegetables with tomato being the most prominent but not overpowering. I actually prefer this to a straight tomato soup. We had ours over cooked brown rice with a little basil topping. I liked the basil aroma that occurred when the topping was stirred into the soup. The brown rice gave the soup a little more body making it a more substantial recipe. I would also like this with barley, millet or quinoa. You can expect to see a few variations of this in the next few days as we eat the leftovers.

Basil Soup Topping:
Makes 12 servings of approximately 1 tablespoon each


2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ cup pine nuts


Combine everything in your food processor and process until smooth. Store in a sealed container with plastic wrap pressed onto the top to slow the oxidization of the basil.

Nutritional Information for 1/12th of the recipe:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 40.09
Calories From Fat (81%) - 32.59

Total Fat - 3.89g
Saturated Fat - 0.28g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 0.54mg
Potassium - 55.91mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.01g
Fiber - 0.33g
Sugar - 0.23g
Protein - 1.01g


This is definitely a cross between pesto and salsa verde which is what I wanted. I like the richness from the pine nuts, aroma from the basil, acidity from the vinegar and sharpness from the raw garlic. It is a nice combination of flavors and helps the soup to come alive.

Salad to accompany the soup:

Since tomorrow is famers market day we are starting to run low on fresh veggies. I made a quick Italian salad with shredded romaine, marinated mushrooms and artichokes, fresh tomatoes, and cucumbers. I added a drizzle of olive oil to my parent’s salads but we ate ours with just the veggies. I thought it was a good with the soup.

Interesting Salad Dressing:

By now you know just how much salad we actually eat. I try to make them as different as possible be we end up returning to old favorites (like salsa with bean) quite often. For lunch yesterday I was determined to make a different salad dressing. This is a good combination and one that came from standing with the refrigerator door open and seeing what we had. It sounds unusual but it turned out nice and savory with a bit of acidity. I guess you have to try to it understand. Here is what I did:

Miso, Mustard and Mirin Dressing
Serves 2


1 teaspoon red miso
2 teaspoons Dijon, I used a variety with whole seeds
2 teaspoons mirin (any vinegar should work)
½ tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes


Combine in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Nutritional Information for ½ recipe:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 18.9
Calories From Fat (18%) - 3.4

Total Fat - 0.39g
Saturated Fat - 0.04g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 169.71mg
Potassium - 48.21mg
Total Carbohydrates - 3.18g
Fiber - 0.29g
Sugar - 0.18g
Protein - 0.57g


I don’t know how to describe this dressing. It has a somewhat “meaty” taste to it. I don’t know if that it is the umami from the nutritional yeast of the dark miso but the flavor is interesting. It is definitely a bit Asian and not like anything I have had before. Both Dan and I enjoyed it so you will probably see it again. I think it would make a fabulous marinade for tofu that you would like to bake. I will be trying that soon to see if I am right. Assuming I don’t forget that is. ;-)

To go with the salad we also had a cup of frozen grapes. I love frozen grapes, particularly in the heat of the summer. If you haven’t tried them you should. Somehow freezing the grapes changes them in a very pleasant way.

I also made a small amount of fresh juice made from: 6 carrots, 1 apple, ½ lemon ¼ inch ginger, 4 collard leaves, 3 stalks celery and 1 small beet.

We also had a few (probably 6 halves) of walnuts to help us absorb the fat soluble vitamins.

If it sounds like we didn’t have many calories for breakfast or lunch yesterday that was intentional. I knew we were meeting a good friend for dinner last night and that meant we would undoubtedly eat more calories. When I know we will be going out I cut back a bit on the food both before and after the restaurant meal to bring things back into balance. It turned out to be a good plan based on what we had for dinner.

Dinner last night:

Dan and I met our shy birthday friend for dinner last night. Needless to say Ian was cooking. As usual everything was great and we ended up overeating. *ugh* However it was really tasty and since we are usually so healthy in terms of nutrition I don’t feel too guilty. ;-)

We started with an appetizer salad of orange, avocado, red onion, cucumber and mesclun greens with black olive vinaigrette.

Next we ordered marinated cremini mushrooms.

Ian knew we were coming so he had prepped some Szechuan tofu and veggies. He knows we love his Asian food. We thought twice about this because the tofu is deep fried but in the end we went for it since it was made for us. It was fantastic, as always.

After we finished the tofu we weren’t sure how hungry we were but decided to order a special pizza. Ian always says he will make anything I can dream up. Last night I decided to combine a few items from the menu into a pizza. It started with whole wheat crust spread with hummus. He topped that with Turkish spiced eggplant that he uses to make “iman fainted” and added some roasted peppers and caramelized onions. After the pizza was baked I asked him to top it with the salad portion of fattoush (mesclun, diced tomato and cucumber). The pizza was finished with pine nuts. This pizza turned out really well. You will definitely see this turn up again when we go out.

Breakfast this morning:

After eating a much more rich meal than usual neither of us were moving quickly this morning. I could definitely feel the effects of “going off the reservation” in terms of nutrition. My body was not happy with me all day today. I felt foggy, bloated and had a little headache. I haven’t felt like this in a while. I think my body was telling me no more deep fried tofu. *shakes head* Next time we will just have to say no to the tofu. Bummer since it really tastes good. ;-)

It took us a couple of hours this morning to want breakfast. That is not typical at our house and was another sign that we overnight last night. To compensate for our overindulgence we had a light breakfast of leftover soup, topped with diced tomato and capers.

We also had a salad with romaine, red cabbage, salsa, black beans, tomato, cucumber and sunflower seeds.

Miscellaneous olive oil info:

Those of you that still use olive oil may want to check out this article. Apparently a lot of olive oil that is sold as extra virgin doesn’t actually make the standards to be labeled as such. Disconcerting I thought.

Unrelated notes:

Dinner tonight is likely going to be something light, like salad or fruit. After our food fest yesterday I can’t imagine wanting anything much for dinner.

Tomorrow is going to be typical with an early trip to the farmers’ market and a mid day meal with my parents. Dan needs to do some work tomorrow but at least he is going to log in from home. I should have a little time to spend in the kitchen and make something fun for us to eat. I won’t have any idea what that is until I see what we bring home from the market tomorrow.

This evening we may watch a movie since that is such a great way to relax. I hope that all of you are having a very relaxing weekend. Talk to you all again tomorrow.


  1. Almond smash,


    I have a question about your name, are you from Baltimore? If yes any idea where to find almond smash? Is it still available?


  2. Hi Ali,

    wow! amazing food day! i will have to try the frozen grapes as a healthy dessert! have a great weekend. -Aimee

  3. That soup is next on my list! My long, long list of your recipes that must be tried!

    We went off the wagon waaaaay more than you last night ... I won't mar your beautiful blog with the gory details. But I feel fine this morning, which probably means I wasn't clean enough to begin with (gosh darnit). Back to it today.

    Do you freeze your miso?

  4. Aimee,

    I think you will really like frozen grapes. They are something I have eaten for many years. I almost never eat unfrozen grapes now. ;-)

    hope you are having a good weekend,

  5. The soup looks great to me. And that pizza - did you save me a slice ;-)

    Hope you have a great Sunday!

  6. Laura,

    The soup was really good. I was glad I made a huge batch. I have a few ideas for how to change the leftovers which I will be posting. ;-)

    Sorry to hear you out did our food fest. We wouldn't have had the tofu if the chef hadn't made it especially for us. It would have been like not eating a birthday cake someone made you. It did taste great going down, it was just later that we paid the price.

    Miso lasts a really long time (months) in the refrigerator so I have not had to freeze it. But I do freeze "cheeze" that contains it and that has tasted fine when defrosted. Sorry I coudn't be more help on this one.

    enjoy the remainder of your weekend,

  7. Heather,

    You would love the pizza! I have to ask Ian what spices he uses on the eggplant since it was so fragant. I think this may have been my favorite pizza ever, it was that good.

    enjoy your Sunday too!

  8. Wow, that pizza looks great!
    So happy for you, that you have Ian to cook! =)

    We should all be so blessed.

    I am curious, what is almond smash?

  9. I've never been a big fan of tomato soup, but yours looks and sounds great! Sound like something I need to try! Everything looks wonderful!

  10. Naina,

    We are very fortunate to have Ian and we know it. He tries to make us vegan food but his culinary mind doesn't work that way. We decided a while ago that I would have the ideas and he would execute. I love the way that works. ;-) His execution always exceeds my expectations.

    Almond smash is a soda that was popular when I was a child. I haven't had it in 30 years. Dan loves it even though he hasn't had it in at least that long either. If I can find in anywhere I would buy him some even though it is on our "off limits list". Sometimes you just need to run with scissors. ;-)


  11. Michelle,

    I am not a huge fan of tomato soup either. I find most tomato soups to be one dimensional and too intensely tomato flavored. This soup is neither, IMO. ;-)

    Ian did a great job Friday night, as always. We are very lucky to have such a talented classically trained chef that will make us vegan food at the spur of the moment. He is a great guy that are fortunate to call our friend.



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