Vegan & Fabulously Effortless: Fresh Tomato Soup
”I wanted to keep the ingredients as simple and fresh as possible and minimize all the unnecessary hassle. Once the fresh ingredients have been chopped, the rest will happen by itself.”
There are two kind of vegetable soups in the world: the dull ones and the ones that make your friends burst into happy tears straight after the first spoonful.
I’ve been patiently developing the recipe for my own signature tomato soup. Finally it’s safe to say that I’ve found the sweet spot where effortlessness meets my personal standards for deliciousness. Sometimes you want to enjoy putting a lot of time, effort and energy into a meal and preparing it nice and slow. But for this particular recipe, my ultimate goal was to create a beautiful everyday dish, just like the beloved Yellow Mood lentil soup.
Preparing this tomato soup is easy like Sunday morning. No need to heat the oven or pre-roast anything, no hassle with tomato purée cans either. No blanching, no broth cooking, no drama. This recipe has been created with love for all of you out there who appreciate super tasty yet easygoing everyday meals.
Here at the Arctic Circle, our soup pot has been busy and bubbling all week. To be honest, during the last four days we have been cooking altogether eight liters of this soup and enjoying it mostly just together with Tuomas. Quite an accomplishment, right? If I had to name one dish for the rest of my life, this fabulous soup would be there with the winners – you know, it’s the type of dish that makes you crave just one more spoonful after just one more spoonful…
(To be honest, this very recipe has brought out a real French soup cooking mama in me – never met her before!)
The alchemy of effortless tomato soup
Simplicity and clear flavors – they are the heart of this soup. I wanted to keep the ingredients as simple and fresh as possible and minimize all the unnecessary hassle. Once the fresh ingredients have been chopped, the rest will happen by itself. Every possible shortcut to the ultimate deliciousness has already been taken for you.
Winter is not the most ideal time for fresh tomato soup but it’s possible to find juicy and ripe tomatoes, even in Lapland. Worry not: if you choose ripe tomatoes from abroad instead over raw Finnish tomatoes, you will end up with a rich-flavoured and tasty soup. Just hand pick the right ones with love – they are the soft, a bit dimpled, plumpy and dark ones.
Before putting tomatoes into the pot, I purify them in a bath. I’ve written a thorough guide about washing different types of vegetables and fruits – you will find it from my book called Raakaleivonnan ABC (raw dessert book which is soon published in English as well). Vegetables with peel, such as cherry tomatoes, zucchinis and chilis, are recommended to be bathed in a washing liquid that contains 1 liter of water, 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar and one tablespoon of soda. Just let the vegetables float in the sizzling liquid for fifteen minutes, rinse them with cold water and lay them on a kitchen towel. Simple as that!
Regarding the taste, there are two important things I want to pinpoint before we start. I warmly recommend not to negotiate about these. First of all, it is worth all the time and effort to really chop the onions, carrots and garlics into small-ish cubes and toast them on a pan. Use a good amount of olive oil until they get a golden color and become nice and soft. This does take a little bit of patience, but if you really want that rich-flavored success, this is the key! And here comes the second important thing: you don’t want to negotiate about sugar – because, let me tell you, the flavor just isn’t perfect without it. Tomato based recipes traditionally contain sweet elements to soften the acidic taste and to round up the flavors. Carrots will surely bring their own mellow sweetness into the mix, but in this particular recipe I use coconut sugar in addition. Feel free to throw in some normal or cane sugar – they work just as well.
With my recipe you will end up with four full liters of soup. If that’s too much for you, you can easily just cut the ingredients in half. Personally, when it comes to soups, more seems to be more: I love to prepare a good amount at once so that I don’t have to cook every day. A matter of taste and lifestyle choices, of course.
This tomato soup is also perfect for freezing, and it actually makes the flavors even better and richer. I’ve also tried using the soup as a base for a pasta sauce and it works like a charm. Just throw in a lot of fresh basil, dried oregano, a hint of lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese. Check the amount of salt and sugar. If you have a craving for a thicker texture, just add some rice flour into the mix.
3 ways to even more satisfying tomato soup
I love tomato soup as it is. Still, sometimes I use my imagination and serve it with some extras – switching things up a little makes life and everyday cooking more fun and interesting. Here’s my top three extras to make my favorite soups even more satisfying:
Beans & Chickpeas
Readily boiled chickpeas and white beans go very well with this soup. They bring some extra protein and chewable texture. I warmly recommend throwing the boiled beans on the pan together with some fine quality olive oil and cajun spice mix, giving them a nice and crispy feel. This is a fast way to maximise the taste of the beans – from dull to super tasty!
(Vegan) Feta Cheese
The original greek Kourellas feta cheese is, hands down, a perfect match for this soup. Kourellas feta is made from sheep and goat milk and has a fresh, pure and nicely cultured taste. This cheese is ridicilously tasty – the best taste I’ve ever managed to find. (In Rovaniemi, you will find it at least from K-supermarket Ounasvaara.)
Cottage cheese is a classic companion for a tomato soup and doesn’t need a lot of reasoning – it just is that good. Look for the most natural and greasy ones, to guarantee the best possible taste.
Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup
8 portions / 4 liters (135 ounces) of soup
1. Peel the onions and garlics and chop them into small pieces. Remove the ends from carrots and chop them into small pieces as well (the smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook). There’s no need to peel the carrots, especially if they are organic.
2. Throw the chopped onions and carrots into the pot togeter with olive oil. At first, heat the stove to the maximum and then drop the heat down to medium level. Let the vegetables roast until the onions are soft and the carrots have a golden colour.
3. Wash the tomatoes (see instructions above). Cut the tomatoes in half so that the stem remains complete on the other half and then remove it with a sharp knife. Cut the tomatoes into about four pieces, depending on their size. The pieces can be generous as they will boil down anyway.
4. Boil one liter of water in an electric kettle and crush the stock cubes in.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable broth, sea salt, coconut sugar and tomato purée into the onion-garlic-carrot mix. Heat up the soup until it boils, then turn the heat down to medium level. Keep the lid on and let the soup boil for at least 30 minutes but preferably for a whole hour.
6. Squash the soup in a blender or a mixer. Finally, add the oat cream or cream and mix. Check the taste and add salt if needed. Enjoy with basil-flavoured oil (recipe below).
Basil Flavoured Oil
1. Mix the basil leaves, olive oil, sugar and salt in a blender or a mixer and pour on top of the soup.
2. If you have a craving for more tomato dishes, you may want to check out my other gluten-free creations: italian tomatoes and feta cheese pie, the world’s best lentil soup, fresh tomato pasta and easy lentil pasta. All these recipes fall into the category of easygoing everyday meals without meat.
In case you have any questions about the recipe, drop your question in the comments section – and if you end up trying out this recipe, please share your experience with me. Have a tasty week!
Photos Hannamari Rahkonen