Tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family. Cooking them will reduce their vitamin C content but it also increase their trans-lycopene content. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant thought to protect cells from damage. It can be found in all red coloured fruits and vegetables but is very high in tomatoes. The cooking process changes lycopene into a form more easily used by a body.
Tomatoes are also notorious for holding heat so be careful of your tongue while tasting along the way. Local field tomatoes might still be available in your part of the world but here we have transitioned to hot house options.
You will need:
1 onion, finely diced
1 medium zucchini, peeled and finely diced
4 stocks of celery, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
15- 20 tomatoes (5-6 cups once blended)
1 Tbsp. herbs de Provence
salt to taste
8 – 9 drops of hot pepper sauce ( or more )
Parmesan cheese, either a shaving of Reggiano or a sprinkle to spoonful of grated
Prepare the vegetables that need chopping while the oil heats in a medium sized pot on medium heat. Once all the vegetables except the tomatoes ( well technically they are fruit, so all the veggies) are in the pot. Place a lid on top and allow them to sweat for about 20 minutes, stirring several times. The point here is not to brown the veggies so much as soften. The onions will become transparent and the other will begin their cooking process. The zucchini was peeled so as not add anything that might take away from the bright red of the tomatoes.
Wash and place the ripe tomatoes into a blender. Blend until smooth. In my blender that took two batches and under two seconds each time. So much quicker than chopping them all up by hand. There will be lots of air in the mix so it may look pink when added to the vegetables.
Stir to mix well and add the spices. I have a large bag of herbs de Provence within easy reach. A souvenir gift from a friend. Dill, garlic, oregano, chives are other options if that is in your spice rack. The hot sauce adds a nice little warmth to the tummy from what is really a pretty light meal.
Continue simmering on low on a back burner for at least an hour. The veggies should be soft but still chewable. If they seem too hard then give them another 15 minutes.
Scoop about two cups of vegetables into the blender and blend until smooth. Return to the soup. This will help to thicken it a bit. If the soup is tasting a little “acidy”, try adding 1/2 teaspoon baking soda or one teaspoon butter. Stir well to activate and incorporate. I find that the added cheese as garnish is enough to resolve any issues.
On cold days I like to leave chunks as the action of chewing adds to a sense of comfort and fullness. If you prefer, it is possible to blend the entire mixture.
Fill bowls and top with parmesan cheese. Serve in a bowl that will retain heat, something narrow and deep works well.
Tomato Veggie Soup with Parmesan from My Kitchen Wand