Cream of tomato soup typically calls for a lot of butter and heavy cream. Many people assume that is what is needed to achieve a thick, smooth and creamy consistency. But unless one is looking to add saturated fat, cholesterol, and casein, then the dairy products simply aren’t necessary.
To achieve the soup’s creamy consistency in my recipe, I use… you guessed it, beans! Navy beans, or any other white or light-colored beans, are great to use in lieu of dairy in creamy soups. And depending on how much creaminess you like, you can always add more or less beans.
Navy beans are rich in protein (1 cup has 15 grams), and a great source of iron, folate, manganese, and calcium. And like all beans, navy beans add fiber to any meal (dairy has no fiber whatsoever), making this soup more filling and satisfying, as well as healthier for your heart. So next time you come across a soup recipe that calls for heavy cream, just remember there are so many reasons to use beans instead.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: The first time I tested this soup, I served it as an appetizer and it totally overshadowed the entree. It was also pretty filling for an appetizer so I have since served it as an entree with a big green salad and that hits the spot just right. I have never been a huge tomato soup lover, but I adore this soup. During the filming of this series, we were experiencing record-breaking low temperatures in Boston and the kitchen is the coldest part of our house. I didn’t want to be in a huge puffy coat on camera but I was really freezing so as soon as we finished shooting this recipe, I just ate the entire batch by myself. I didn’t even put it in a bowl; I just held the bottom of the pot with my oven-mittened hand and ate it straight from the ladle. (It’s really a miracle I didn’t spill on my green shirt.) I’m sure the camera man thought I was crazy but I felt so much better. Like I said, this soup really hits the spot.
1-15 oz can navy beans (or 1 1/2 cups)
1-15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 dash cayenne
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, as garnish (optional)
1. In a soup pot, combine the navy beans, 3 cups of water, crushed tomatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and cover and simmer.
2. Meanwhile, dice the carrot, celery and garlic. Add the garlic to a saute pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the celery and carrots, and saute for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the cumin, smoked paprika, basil and cayenne to the saute pan and stir for 2 minutes.
4. Add the tomato puree to the saute pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes.
5. Add the saute mixture to the soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
6. Remove the bayleaf. In a food processor or blender, add the tamari, date, tomato paste and soup (in batches if necessary). Blend to desired consistency. Serve with chopped fresh basil, if using.