Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese. Is there any better rainy day meal? I always remember this one as a kid and hope to pass down the tradition to my own kids beginning this year! Honestly, I think all my mom did was open up a can of tomato soup and pop together a grilled cheese sandwich with some white bread and American Cheese. We didn’t really know back then that these probably weren’t the healthiest choices given the sodium and processed ingredients that were in it, but in my mom’s defense, she did make sure we had some sort of vegetable with it.
So here I am in my little test kitchen sampling a brand new, delicious homemade roasted tomato soup with a piece of crusty French bread & melted burrata cheese, and I cannot wait to share some with Tommy….if there is any left of course.
Let’s go over my favorite reasons for making homemade soup vs canned.
It tastes so much better
You really can’t beat something that’s homemade: Real food with real flavors. If you’re cooking this for your kids, you want them to get used to the taste of real food more than anything, and though I realize that it’s so much faster to just open up a can of soup, once you make a pot of this and see how easy it is, you will far from miss the cans.
Not sure the last time you checked a can of soup, but the sodium grams are usually over 600 milligrams for 1 serving (usually half the can) and it’s almost always iodized salt which is chemically processed and bleached. Generally if a product just says “salt” vs “sea salt” that’s what you’re getting. A very different thing, since they take naturally perfect sea salt, strip it of all its minerals, then process it, bleach it, and add in some idodine.
Keep in mind you generally want to stay under 2000 mg of sodium daily, so once you have a can of a soup like this you’re more than half- way- done for the day. Stick with homemade!
Tomatoes are extremely nutritious with their rock star source of vitamin C, biotin, and Vitamin K, and can you guess when they’re even healthier? When they’re cooked in a healthy fat like olive oil since that’s when all the amazing fat soluble vitamins get absorbed. (just in case you need another reason to love this soup).
Tomatoes also contain compounds called carotenoids, and one very special one, lycopene gets 5 stars on the Nutritious Yogi scale for its nutritional potency. Research has shown these antioxidants in tomatoes can lower the risk of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women. A diet rich in tomatoes is also associated with less instances of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.
And it’s excellent for weight loss! Coming in at less than 35 calories for 1 cup, it’s another reason to feast on more of these nutritionally dense vegetables.
If you’re totally pressed for time, you can use boxed, jars, or canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh. I just love the taste that the roasting process brings, so I usually opt for that.
If I end up doing boxed, I’ll go for these. If cans are your only option, be sure to look for ones that are BPA free. BPA, (bisphenol A) is found in the lining of many aluminum cans and has potential risk factors associated with it including its impact on estrogen metabolism. When you combine this with the acid that’s in tomatoes it makes it all the more questionable.
Beans are an excellent source of fiber, and contain a nice balance of complex carbohydrates and protein making it great for balancing blood sugar levels. It’s also nice to have beans on hand when you want to go meatless which for me has been much more often lately.
But my favorite thing about beans is that they’re also good for the gut.
The soluble fiber they contain move down to the lower colon and become a food source for all the healthy bacteria that live there. Researchers are becoming more and more fascinated with these "prebiotics" since they feed the good bacteria (the probiotics) and help them “come alive”! Come on nutrition nerds, don’t hide your excitement.
White beans are another great way to add depth & creaminess to soups and stews without using dairy. If you omit the butter and cheese in this recipe it can be totally vegan and still be delicious.
The benefits of garlic are off the charts. A proud member of the allium family, (some call it the stinking rose), garlic has an abundance of sulfur-containing compounds and trace minerals that help to boost cardiovascular health and support just about every system of our body. It has anti-inflammatory, properties as well as anti-microbial, and helps take our immune system to an outstanding new level. It also seemed to help my milk supply when I was nursing and got the baby used to tasting its abundant flavor, helping his developing pallet become more open to herbs and spices. And more great news...garlic powder is just as potent. This recipe uses both powdered and fresh for the perfect punch.
This is another recipe that’s totally fine to do in 2 parts. I sometimes will roast the tomatoes in the morning, then assemble the soup later in the day.
A Vitamix or blender would work fine for the grand finale, just take your time and take note of the consistency as you go, and stop when you feel like it’s a good texture.
Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup
8 large tomatoes, halved, or cut in thirds
1 Tbsp grass fed butter
1 Tbsp olive oil (2 Tbsp instead of butter for vegan option)
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 large carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 box (or can) white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or dried)
4 cups organic vegetable stock
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
Sea salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Begin by roasting the tomatoes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice tomatoes in halves (or thirds depending on how big they are) and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon pad. Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt & pepper. Roast tomatoes 25-30 minutes or until caramelized. Set aside
In large stock pot drop 1 Tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil into pan and saute onion and carrots on medium heat 6-7 minutes or until veggies soften a bit. Stir in garlic and cook 3-4 minutes more. Add roasted tomatoes to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil then lower to a simmer for about 15 minutes covered. Add remaining ingredients (thyme, spices & beans) along with another dash of salt & pepper. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Use an immersion blender and blend until ingredients are pureed or reach desired consistency. If using blender, transfer carefully with a ladle and return to pot when finished. Add parmesan cheese (if using) and adjust seasonings to taste.
The grilled cheese
This recipe is an overall healthier version of the classic. For one thing, it's open-faced because really, there's no reason to have 2 pieces of bread, especially when it's a good one. The cheese I chose is also different in that it's not a slice of processed American cheese. I'm using a shredded raw milk cheese I purchased locally at the Boston farmer's market. The brand is Jasper Hill Farm. Raw milk dairy products have not been pasteurized, so they still contain important enzymes that help break down the fats and minerals they contain. They are also a great source of gut friendly probiotics.
Take 1 medium piece of good bakery bread. French bread, sourdough, or baguette are fine choices. Gluten-free or sprouted bread is another option. Spread with 1 tsp butter and sprinkle on about 2-3 Tbsp shredded cheese of choice. You may also spread on 1 tbsp creamy burratta cheese, a soft mozzarella, or even a goat cheese. Add a thin slice of tomato if you'd like and a dash of oregano and toast in toaster 3 minutes or until cheese melts and it gets all nice and crispy.
Best served on a rainy or winter day!
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