I practice fasting often, not just during the Lenten season. Recently I took up a liquids-only fast, overlooking our exceptionally scanty pantry. Determined to stay on course, I examined the ingredients on a can of tomato soup. Shoving the idea of a toasted cheese sandwich deep down, I quickly noticed the villainous high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient listed. I put the can back on the shelf and drifted to the refrigerator.
I considered the marvelous turkey vegetable soup I’d made from frozen turkey stock. Chunky with fresh veggies, it was not exactly liquid, so I returned to the pantry. On a different can of tomato soup, I noticed the first ingredient: “Tomato puree (tomato paste and water).” I fast-forwarded from there.
Grabbing a small can of tomato paste and I was off and running with sudden inspiration for a healthier alternative. The result is so fantastic I made it again the next two days. I would have prepared the soup even if I had received the revelation I’d sought ;).
The soup can be dressed up with cheese; I like a finely grated Italian blend of Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina and Asiago (available even at Walmart) and cheddar is also delicious. Also good to add are sweet corn, tuna or any white, flaked fish, a cup of milk, cream, or yogurt (and crumbled bacon is fabulous when one is not fasting from meat). Plain soup makes a delicious stand alone light meal (with croutons, toast or a sandwich) anytime – but the soup is especially good during a liquid fast!
Easy Home-Style Tomato Basil Soup
Makes 3 – 4 servings, 3 servings approximately 158 calories. 4 servings approx. 210 calories
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, rubbed
salt to taste
a few twists of fresh ground pepper blend
6 ounces sweet, red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinon Noir or Moscato are also good)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cups warm vegetable stock (bullion is acceptable, but don’t add extra salt)
Extra: finely grated cheese
In a medium saucepan slowly brown tomato paste, basil, salt (if your not using bullion) and pepper, over medium heat. Stir constantly being careful not to scorch – you can’t over-brown the tomato paste and the darker, the better. As the paste thickens, gradually and slowly blend in wine in small increments. Continue browning paste and wine. Once the last of the wine is added also add the sugar.
Once all wine is stirred in, sugar dissolves and paste thickens again, slowly and gradually whisk in 3 cups vegetable stock.
Bring soup to a gentle boil and then remove from heat. Spoon into bowls, top with grated cheese and serve. Delicious!