As I have said many times before, this is one of my favorite times of year. The weather feels pleasantly cleaner and cooler. The light changes, and the beautiful colors, reds, golds, and greens of the season stand out. It is also the best time of the year for cooking. You have the convergence of summer still producing fresh zucchini, tomatoes, corn, and herbs. At the same time, the glorious fall squashes and root vegetables are ready for harvest. The weather is cool enough that you can make soups, stews, and chili’s that warm you in the cool evenings, but still enjoy summer salads in the warm sun at lunch.
I love, love, love summer tomatoes. I also love soup. One of my favorite things to make and eat is fresh tomato soup. If you share this love of mine, I advise you to RUN to the store now, and buy all the fresh tomatoes you can find because they are almost gone.
There are three key secrets to making the creamiest tomato soup without dairy. You need to start with a mirepoix: a mix of onion, celery, carrot. Whether I am making a pureed vegetable soup, or a soup with diced vegetables, I love to add parsnips and/or celery root to my mirepoix.
Tip: The best way to peel a celery root is with a sharp knife and not a peeler.
It makes all the difference in flavor. The first (secret) tip to making creamy soup is to grate your root vegetables (carrot, celery root, parsnips). You can do this with a box grater or a food processor.
Once you have the onion and celery diced, and the root vegetables grated, you need to sweat the vegetables in olive oil.
I love olive oil, and think it’s really good for you, but I really try and measure it, due to the amount of fat and calories. For this recipe I start with three tablespoons of olive oil in a heated Dutch oven. I then add my onion, celery, carrot, and celery root, salt, pepper, and sweat the vegetables.
The definition of the culinary term sweat, is to cook without color. The second secret to the creaminess is to spend the time sweating these vegetables until they are good and cooked. Stirring often helps them not to stick to the pan or to brown. If this happens, you might need to add a bit of water and stir constantly.
Once the vegetables are well cooked, add the fresh tomatoes.
I like to stir them in and let them release their water until I add more water to the pot. Once they do break down and release their liquid, I add water to cover the tomatoes, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
The third and final key to the creamiest cream-free tomato soup is to have a good blender. I have a Vitamix which is my pride and joy in the kitchen. It’s expensive, but I was able to set up a payment plan, and It was worth it! I use it everyday!
Use caution when blending hot liquid in a blender, because it can blow up and burn you. A lovely feature of the Vitamix is that it has a dial where you can start the power level on low, and gradually move it to high. Also, when blending hot liquid, don’t fill the blender to the top.
Blend the soup for at least two minutes on high speed to achieve the desired creaminess. It is the most velvety, creamy, delicious tomato soup you will ever make without cream! Enjoy!