Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cooking to Save the Planet: Cream of Tomato Soup

Can anything (any supper, that is) be more soothing for a raw throat and stuffy head than a steaming dish of cream of tomato soup?  I make mine with a hefty pinch of cayenne, which has to be good medicine for a sore throat and inflamed sinuses, because I can actually feel it working magic on the sore areas as I sup the soup.

Here's how I make a pot of cream of tomato soup: in a soup pot, I bring a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes to a simmer with a medium onion and stalk of celery, both coarsely chopped.  I add a cup or two of water or stock, along with salt and pepper to taste, and good bit of cayenne and grated nutmeg.

When the vegetables are tender, I puree the tomato mix and beat into it about two heaping tablespoons of flour mixed with three tablespoons of butter (beurre manié).  When the flour and butter have been incorporated into the tomato base, I also beat in about two cups of milk.

Bring to a near boil and serve.  This is wonderful with simple croutons of stale slices of bread toasted in the oven, buttered and with a thin slice of cheese melted into them after they have crisped.  And healing, whether one has a cold or not.  And salubrious, I'm convinced, even for someone who has to watch blood sugar levels.  As long as you don't eat the entire pot at one sitting . . . .

For those trying to monitor saturated fats (and I do, generally, though for some dishes, I use butter, since I don't eat it frequently), you may prefer, instead, to make a roux before you add the tomatoes.  In that case, heat some olive oil in the bottom of your soup pot, add the celery and onion, and cook until the vegetables start to wilt.  Sprinkle over the tablespoons of flour and mix well, taking care to stir the flour mix well into the tomatoes and water as you add them.  You can also brush the crouton with olive oil instead of butter before putting the cheese on to melt.

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