It seems like all of me, as usual, is gearing up for fall before it’s time. In the free space that’s left inside my brain, I’m imagining soup ideas, flavor profiles, and ways to turn what is usually a guilty-pleasure into a free and wholesome delight. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
Today I was missing Texas.
Today I dreamed of red brick roads, bigger skies and a warmly lit cafe tucked away between the sound of order and chaos.
Today I brought the promise home.
I feel about Tomato Basil Soup the way I feel about Pad Thai: few and far between can make it right (even my own recipe that I’ve concocted isn’t quite there yet with what I imagine to be the best) and I’ll be highly impressed/won-over by someone who can deliver under such high expectations.
Today I took a shot; my body is happy and my heart is glad.
In a pan you’ll saute about 6 cloves of freshly chopped garlic, a quarter of a vidalia onion and sea salt in a little bit of olive oil. Dice about 10 fresh tomatoes and combine in the pan with 2 c. of tomato juice (you can take the faster/less expensive option by adding a large can 0f crushed tomatoes and a small can of diced tomatoes) and 2 c. of chicken broth.
Bring your soup to a boil while you stir in crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, freshly-cracked black peppercorn and about 12 leaves of freshly chopped basil. You’re going to have to decide how much spice you would like to add. I love to cook with cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper together because the spice hits you in two completely different places on your palette making for a well-rounded spice profile. When adding different types of pepper you’ll want to keep in mind that you don’t want it to overwhelm the other flavors you have going on in your soup: hearty garlic, fresh aromatic basil, and lively, acidic tomatoes.
Next you’ll add about 1/2 c. of non-fat plain greek yogurt to thicken and add a creamy characteristic to the soup without all of the fat and calories of the traditionally used heavy whipping cream.
Now here’s the secret: unsweetened cocoa powder. No one will ever know. You’ll just need about 1 T. or less. The cocoa really helps to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and to bring a warmth and creamy, rich flavor to the soup that is usually accomplished by adding more fat.
You’ll bring your soup to a slow, rolling boil and simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes. Allow all of your flavors to blend together as they simmer, adding salt to taste, and taste-testing as you go. Now is the perfect time to play with all of the flavors you are incorporating in this soup. You’ll increase to the degree of your heart’s desire and be happy.
When you’ve arrived, you’ll top your little bowl of soup with a sprig of fresh basil and few crumbles of feta cheese.
Your body is still thanking you…enjoy!