Creamy Tomato Soup
Creamy tomato soup is a favorite of mine. So are wholesome and hearty recipes that I can whip off in no time.
Five key ingredients and five minutes later, and I was happily slurping.
The recipe is inspired by Panera Bread’s Vegetarian Creamy Tomato Soup. Their philosophy centers around Good Goes In. Good and wholesome ingredients going in, good and wholesome soup going out.
I have fond memories of Panera because it was a regular lunch spot for my co-workers and I years ago when I was living in Chicago. With those brutal winters, nothing hit the spot better than a warm bowl of soup. Or their warm cookies. It was 90F in Aruba when I made this soup, but that didn’t stop my family from devouring the whole batch the same day.
Here in Aruba, obtaining anything from instant pudding mix to a fresh zucchini can be challenging. Therefore, the ingredient list for the soup is very short and focuses on readily available ingredients. I’ve read too many soup recipes that call for a dash of this and a pinch of that and before you know it, there’s twenty pinches and umpteen different spices needed that I don’t keep around. This isn’t that kind of recipe.
The soup is vegan, gluten-free, and comes together by way of a blender and a microwave, perfect for anyone with limited kitchen equipment, or limited time to devote. Healthy and homemade-in-a-hurry.
To make the soup, I blended two 14-5-ounces cans of Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes with Cajun flavors with a handful of raw baby carrots, a drizzle of olive oil, Old Bay Seasoning, and black pepper. I omitted adding salt, because the tomatoes are already salted, and we watch our sodium intake, but salt to taste if desired.
The canned tomatoes get their Cajun name from the addition of green peppers, garlic, onion, celery, and Cajun spices. Between those spices and adding a bit of Old Bay, the soup didn’t need anything else. There’s a tiny bit of heat, and if you’re a heat seeker, add a pinch of red pepper flakes, cayenne, or chili powder to taste.
The creamy factor comes by way of adding, you guessed it, cream. However, real cream is not necessary and two percent milk or milk-alternatives are fine. In order to keep the soup vegan, use almond, soy, or cashew milk, which can be made by soaking one-half cup of raw cashews for an hour and blending them with one about cup of water. Cashew milk is creamier than real cream. Because there’s very little fat in the soup, I don’t mind adding cream or a rich nut-milk or for both flavor, richness, and to feel satiated.
After blending the soup to a smooth texture, transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, cover with plasticwrap, and warm it. I topped the soup with grated cheese and garnished with a bit of cilantro, which was the singular fresh herb available at the market here. My five-year-old said she liked the mini-trees with fluffy leaves I put in the soup. Rosemary, basil, or oregano would also work well.
Generally, I like a little food with my dip and a little soup with my crackers, and they’re a must-have. I served the soup with mini-toasts, or try croutons, pita bread, breadsticks, or oyster crackers. Some people like dipping cookies in milk, but I take greater pleasure in dipping crackers in soup.
The soup is hearty and filling but not heavy. I just love tomatoes and the soup reminds me of summer tomato season. The acidity of the tomatoes was quieted from the carrots, which add a bit of bulk and heft to the body of the soup, as well as provide a hint of natural sweetness. Some people add a pinch of sugar to their tomato soup but I didn’t find it necessary.
The beauty of soup-making is that there’s plenty of flexibility. In this soup, most any variety of stewed, crushed, fire-roasted, or canned tomato medley may be used. Of course, roasting tomatoes and pureeing them is an option, but it takes longer. And if I would have had a fresh red pepper I would have tossed that into the blender canister as well, like I did in this soup.
The soup is perfect for occasions when I crave something warm and comforting but don’t have the time or desire for complicated or long recipes. Busy weeknights with hungry mouths to feed aren’t the time to simmer anything for hours. This simple soup was such a hit with both my five year old and husband, and he triple-checked with me that I can recreate this recipe when we’re back home San Diego.
Yes, I sure can. In about five minutes, actually.
Based on Panera Bread's popular Vegetarian Creamy Tomato Soup, this healthy-in-a-hurry version has a short ingredients list and it comes together in 5 minutes. Although it's ridiculously easy and fast to make, flavor isn't sacrificed. The soup has a mild kick and plenty of creaminess. Garnish with cheese, the herbs of your choice, and serve with favorite crackers or croutons for an easy, warm and comforting meal.
two 14.5-ounce cans stewed tomatoes (I used Del Monte Stewed in Cajon flavor
10 baby carrots or 2 regular carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
about 1/2 cup+ cream or milk (I used 2/3 cup, use vegan milk to keep vegan)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
salt, optional and to taste
fresh cilantro for garnishing, optional (rosemary, basil, oregano may be substituted)
shredded cheese (or vegan cheese), for garnishing, optional
Optional variations to taste: fresh or roasted red peppers; red pepper flakes, chili powder, cayenne pepper; onion, onion powder, garlic, garlic powder, favorite seasoning blend; fresh or dried herbs
Add tomatoes, carrots, oil, OId Bay, pepper, optional salt, and optional variation ingredients to the canister of a blender and blend until smooth. Add the cream until desired consistency and flavor is achieved.
Transfer soup to microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup, and heat on high power to warm, about 2 minutes. Garnish soup with cheese, sour cream, or herbs, and serve immediately. Soup will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Take care all ingredients used are suitable for your dietary needs, selecting vegan milk and cheese products, or using gluten-free crackers, as necessary.
Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free) – Layered with flavors from smoky roasted carrots and red peppers, roasted peanuts, and creamy coconut milk. Thick, hearty, satisfying, and easy
Sweet Potato Red Pepper and Coconut Milk Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, microwave-friendly) – Ready in 15 minutes by steaming a sweet potato in the microwave, and pureering it with red pepper and coconut milk for a flavorful, easy, creamy, and extremely fast soup
Roasted Cinnamon-Ginger Delicata Squash – (vegan, gluten-free) So much easier to open than butternut squash, and their skins are edible. If after roasting delicata you don’t devour it all, toss iinto a blender with vegetable stock, a favorite nut milk, roasted potatoes, or other vegetables and blend into soup
Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, gluten-free) – Parsnips are ideal soup-making vegetables, but here I baked them as fries. They have a subtle kick and bite, are are served with an easy cool and creamy dip. Just as tasty and much healthier than fries made from white potatoes
Corn and Double Cheese Dip (vegan, GF, fat free, serve warm or cold) – The dip comes together in less than five minutes and the flavors would work perfectly as a blended soup. Diced tomatoes, green chilis, corn, and cheese could easily be blended for a fast and creamy soup
Caribbean Citrus Roasted Sweet Potatoes (vegan, gluten-free) - Roasted sweet potatoes wedges, seasoned with Caribbean flavors. Sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to soup
As part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, I received a stipend to try Panera Bread soups. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Do you have a favorite soup recipe?
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