I had tomato soup for the first time in my life about three months ago. Yes, you heard that correctly. In my twenty seven tomato loving years on this planet, pretty much all of them have been tomato soup-less. I have no explanation for this, other than the fact that my early encounters with the dish involved staring at red goop from a can and politely (and not-so-politely) refusing. That basically turned me off the whole thing for good. I assumed it would be an experience somewhere in between drinking straight tomato sauce and hot tomato juice – eeyuk! How ignorant I was. Conor brought home some tomato soup a few months ago and the joy with which he tucked in to his bowl brought out my inevitable foodie curiosity. I had a bite, expecting the saucy, juicy hell I had come to assume was the essence of this soup, but was instead met with rich, flavourful heaven. It was revelatory, to say the least. Creamy and tomatoey but not at all acidic – I had no idea! I immediately looked up the ingredients in tomato soup and was shocked to see how simple it is to pull together. I hope you’ll like my take on it. I wanted it to be just as creamy and cheesy as the traditional version but, y’know… without all the cream and cheese. The combination of cashews and nutritional yeast totally fits the bill, and I’m confident you won’t be able to tell the difference, except in the way your tummy feels after – no uncomfortable dairy bloat! Or is that just me? The lemon juice in the cashew cream adds the perfect amount of tang, while the fresh basil at the end really brightens things up. While most recipes call for canned tomatoes, I wanted this to soup to be as natural and vibrant tasting as possible. It takes a little more time to cook as a result, but it’s totally worth the (non)effort. This soup tastes so fresh and so velvety – you won’t be able to resist. I know what I’m packing for lunch tomorrow – how about you?
Cream of Tomato and Basil Soup
~ gluten free, vegan, soy free ~
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 small yellow onions, diced
- 2 small carrots, diced
- 2 celery stocks, chopped
- 7 vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1.5 tbsp sucanat (or other sugar)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- a handful of fresh basil
- 3.5 cups no-salt-added vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- gf crutons and julienned basil for garnishing (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the onions and gently sweat them for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped carrots, celery, and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften.
- Add the tomato paste and sugar, stirring well to combine, and let cook for about a minute while you get everything else ready to drop into the pot.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, oregano, bay leaf, and sea salt. Season with black pepper.
- Bring to a boil then simmer, lid on, for 40 minutes.
- When the soup is nearly finished, add the soaked cashews, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice to your blender and blend on high until smooth. Taste to see if it’s “cheesy” enough for you – if not, add a touch more lemon and nutritional yeast.
- When the soup is finished simmering, remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Add the fresh basil. At this point you can either use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or ladle it straight into the blender with your cheese sauce. If you choose to use the blender be careful – make sure some air can escape.
- Garnish with some extra strips of basil or chives, and some gf croutons if you have them.