Tomato Soup Sky: a sign from above

Guys. The night I made this recipe, I received a sign.

Like, a sign from above. Literally.

I was making this soup, when I saw this orangey-red light from outside my window. I stepped outside, and saw the best winter sunset so far in New Mexico. And it was THE EXACT SAME COLOR AS THE SOUP I WAS MAKING. That’s right. Tomato soup sky. A sign from above. Yep.

This was such a change for me, I mean actually having gorgeous weather past October and having sunsets instead of watching the light start to disappear at 3:30 is a huge deal. Spending my childhood in Chicago means that I am used to the darkness and the cold. Bitter cold, snowy cold, blustering cold, bone-chilling cold- I think there are just a many words to say “cold” in the Chicago vernacular as there is to say “snow” in the Inuit cultures.

After childhood, I went to college in Iowa, where it was, surprisingly, even colder. Even more, I spent many weekends traversing over into the Dakotas, on road trips and adventures, where I discovered that it was even colder. As in colder than Iowa and Chicago. Perhaps combined. I spent a spring break in college on a farm in central South Dakota, and it was by far the coldest spring temperatures I had ever seen.  (On the other hand, summers were temperate and blissful.)

One of my takeaways from these trips into the tundra were the foods served. Fresh greens in winter were scarce, even in grocery stores. Fruits were more common, but they were often not very flavorful, presumably from the long journey that the fruits had to go through to even get to that often forgotten corner of the country.

Meals served were often heavy, hot, and filling: dumplings, liver and onions, potatoes galore, pot roasts, steaks, and soups.

Oh, the soups.

There’s a reason why our grandmother’s ate so many homemade soups in their time: if made from bones, they are packed with nutrients that ward of viruses, which typically come knocking as the temperatures start to drop. Soups are a way to incorporate tougher vegetables that survive throughout the winter months: parsnips, potatoes, carrots, yams. And of course, soups are warm, which everyone agrees is both comforting and soothing in those dark, wintery days.

One of the greatest soups I have ever had came from a woman in South Dakota who created this recipe all on her own.  It is hot a bubbly and frothy and pure goodness in a bowl. It’s a tomato soup, which sounds boring and wimpy, but this homemade tomato soup packs so much richness and flavor that it really should be in its own category. The original recipe called for 4 cups of heavy whipping cream (!!!), flour, and a multitude of other ingredients that just aren’t paleo. For this post, I’ve modified the original recipe to make it dairy free and primal friendly, but have still kept the integrity of the rich flavors. I’ve also added my own flair to the recipe, a flair that is definitely influenced by my most recent Southwest, warm-winter, adventure. If jalapenos aren’t your thing, just omit them. You can also omit the swirl, especially if you just want a classic tomato soup recipe.  You’ll still get a full-bodied soup, but without that spicy, South of Vanilla twist.

Paleo Jalapeno Tomato Soup with Sundried Tomato-Avocado Cream Swirl

For the soup:

  • 6 cups fresh, whole tomatoes
  • ½ large white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 roughly chopped jalapenos, plus additional for garnish (or more to taste) (Optional)
  • 6 tbsp. grass-fed, organic, unsalted butter (I love Kerrygold)
  • 6 1/3 cups unsweetened original flavored almond mild, divided
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • Salt to taste

For the swirl:

  • ¼ cup Sundried Tomatoes
  • 1 Avocado
  • ½ cup unsweetened, unflavored Almond Milk

For the soup:

  1. Remove skins from tomatoes by slicing an X on the bottom of each fruit, then placing in a large pot and covering all tomatoes with water.
  2. Bring tomatoes in water to a boil for about 6 minutes. Once skin starts to peel back from tomatoes, drain water from pot.
  3. Let tomatoes cool completely before peeling off skins. Discard skins, and place peeled tomatoes back in pot. Peeled tomatoes should be soft at this point and slightly cooked.
  4. In your pot with peeled tomatoes, add butter, garlic, onion, and jalapenos. Sauté on medium-high heat until garlic and onions are fragrant and onions are translucent.
  5. Add 1/3 cup of almond milk to tomato mixture, and let simmer until almost all the liquid is gone.
  6. Remove from heat, and spoon tomato mixture into a blender. Be very careful not to burn yourself, as this blending process emits a large amount of steam. You may have to blend in two separate batches depending on your size of blender. Blend until smooth.
  7. Place blended tomato mixture back into the pot, but reserve 1 cup of the mixture. Place this 1 cup of the tomato mixture in a separate large bowl.
  8. In your separate large bowl with 1 cup of the tomato mixture, add the tapioca flour and baking soda. Whisk until frothy and all the tapioca flour has been absorbed. It may take awhile for the tapioca flour to absorb completely, and it is important to keep whisking, as the flour can easily clump.
  9. Add tomato mixture with the flour and baking soda back into the large pot with the rest of the blended tomato mixture.
  10. Add 4 cups of the almond mild, and heat of medium-low. The soup should never come to a boil, it should just bubble. Stir often to ensure that the soup does not stick to the bottom of the pot, about 15 minutes.
  11. Once the soup is bubbling, add remaining 2 cups of almond milk, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, garlic salt, and paprika. Stir in spices, and heat on medium heat for about 15 more minutes.  Scrape up any burned pieces from the bottom of the pot; this will add a richer flavor.
  12. Serve immediately, or garnish with swirl or jalapenos. (Optional)

For the swirl: 

  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. (There still may be small pieces of sundried tomatoes.)
  2. With a spoon swirl in the cream 1 tbsp. at a time until you have desired swirl. 

Dog Days of Summer

I have a confession to make, and it’s a weird one. Strangely, I’ve heard of several other people who have this same problem. (Hi, Sandra!)

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Are you ready for it?? I don’t like raw tomatoes, BUT I am obsessed with homemade tomato sauces, tomato soup, cooked diced tomatoes, salsa, stewed tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes. Ketchup really isn’t my thing (It’s the Chicago in me), but sometimes my tomato cravings get so intense that I will walk to the nearest store to pick up tomato-based goodies. My tomato cravings happen especially when it comes to tomato soup. Right around 2nd or 3rd grade, my tomato-obsessed friend, Justine, and I would go over to her house after school to play. Before our playtime commenced, we would demand tomato soup and popcorn as a snack. What oddball kids we were.

Clearly, I have no problem with cooked tomatoes in any way; I think raw, uncooked tomatoes have a totally different flavor. Raw tomatoes are brighter, tangy, acidic, and juicy in a not-so-great, want-to-throw-up kind of way. So when my boyfriend excitedly showed up with 15 Roma tomatoes, because he got them all for $1, I didn’t know what to do. Roma tomatoes are notoriously great for making Salsa, but I’m not sure if gnawing on some Romas is appropriate. 

Tomatoes are in season in the heat of summer, and one of my favorite things to do is go look at the mounds and heaps of tomatoes at farmer’s markets. There’s just something about the stacks of the round, juicy, bright orbs that makes me happy. To me, they seem to signify the end of summer, the start of a transition into fall, which is arguably my favorite time of year. (Changing leaves, football, corn mazes, pumpkins, crisp mornings, and Thanksgiving all in one season.)

Sometimes there are so many tomatoes at the farmers market in August that it is not uncommon for vendors to let you take home a whole basket for only a couple bucks. They would rather them go to a happy family and get eaten than have them rot for the sake of a profit. Farmers are good people. Its one of the things I miss about living in Iowa the most.

For these Romas, I decided to dehydrate them and make them into a chip, an incredibly healthy and savory snack food. Since the dehydrator merely draws out moisture, these tomatoes are, shockingly uncooked yet extremely palatable. They’re similar to sundried tomatoes, but they can be made overnight in your home instead of drying them outside with the use of a sundial and guard to keep away pesks. ;) Please note that because of the high moisture content, these take awhile to dehydrate, so plan accordingly. These chips will also shrink in size considerably; they won’t make as much as you think, but don’t worry, they’re still worth it.

Paleo Roma Dill Chips

Makes 1 bowl of chips

  • 15 Roma tomatoes
  • 1.5 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. dried dill, or 3 tbsp. fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. dried chili powder (I use hatch chili powder, yummmm)
  1. Slice tomatoes about ¾ inch thick and place them in a strainer or colander. Place colander in the sink and let the water/juice naturally drain away from the tomato slices for about 10 minutes. Shake occasionally to let additional juices drain.
  2. In a bowl, mix all spices with the olive oil.
  3. Add tomatoes and coat all slices evenly with olive oil mixture by stirring with a spoon or using your hands.
  4. Place slices onto dehydrator, being careful not to overlap. Turn on dehydrator and let dehydrate until slightly chewy but dried. My own dehydrator takes about 8 hours, or overnight, but follow the manufacturer directions for your particular model.