It’s a cold, dreary day. My favorite kind of day if I’m at home and hungry. Usually on days like this I want one of two dishes: curry or tomato basil soup. There’s something about the flavors in those dishes that makes me feel warm and satisfied and ready for a nap.
This tomato basil soup recipe has a little back story. It’s adapted from the Nordstrom cookbook, which I don’t own. But my friend Katie had them all, and when i was in college, she had me over at her house every week and cooked dinner and mentored me. The older I get, the more I realize what a labor of love that was.
Typically I would help her with dinner when I got to her house–which I am so grateful for now because I credit those nights for helping me learn how to cook–and then we’d prepare cookies to bake while we ate dinner. My favorite dishes from her include her lime cilantro tacos, pecan and apple over greens salad, and the tomato basil soup. I still have all of those recipes (and one for muesli) in my cookbook written in her handwriting.
After dinner, we’d scoop some vanilla ice cream onto a warm cookie and head out to her porch to talk about my life. She listened to me talk about that Hungarian guy I really liked, but I didn’t know if he liked me back. She helped me find some of the roots of my performance-based perfectionism while making me laugh at some of her teenage stories. Most importantly, she invited me into her home week after week and let me see her marriage with Ryan, let me help tuck her daughter Kyla in, and let me see what a Christian woman who is not afraid to own up to her vulnerabilities was like.
I credit Katie for helping me see myself and God more honestly. She and Ryan helped JD and me in ways that we are still realizing, and I will always be grateful for those weekly dinners and cookies on her porch.
Below is a plant-based-ified version of Nordstrom’s tomato basil soup, and it is my favorite soup of all time. It’s simple, easy, and fairly quick. You can make it smoky by adding some smoked paprika. You can put some Italian sausage (or Italian tofurky) for the meat-eaters in your family. You can pour it over rice or toast some french bread for dipping. Or pour some pumpkin cornbread croutons on it like I did. It’s really hard to ruin the soup.
So good luck! Whip up some of this soup and perhaps invite a college student over for dinner. They need someone to talk to.
Tomato Basil Soup
Makes 6-8 bowls of soup.
1 tbs. coconut oil (or vegetable broth if you don’t use oil)
5 carrots, peeled and chopped (I run these through my Vitamix for like 10 seconds to chop them)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tbs. dried basil
3 cans (28-oz. each) whole tomatoes* with puree
1 can (15-oz.) tomato sauce
2 cups cashew cream (2 cups raw cashews and 1/2 cup of water)
2 tbs. honey (this is to combat bitterness)
Salt and peper to taste
*You can use whole tomatoes with basil, whole Roma tomatoes (my favorite), or Italian-style whole tomatoes. They are all slightly different, but good options.
1. In a big pot, warm the oil. Then add carrots, onion, and dried basil and saute until softened (about 10 minutes).
2. Add the tomatoes with puree and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.
4. While the soup is simmering, pour 2 cups of raw cashews and 1/2 cup of water into your blender and blend. It is much better to start out with not enough water than too much–trust me, you do not want cashew water in your soup! If the cream is too thick to naturally pour out of the blender, add water by tablespoons until it’s the consistency of melted ice cream.
5. Remove soup from heat and puree the soup with an immersion hand blender. You can also do this by blending the whole tomatoes and some of the soup in a regular blender, but it’s much more cumbersome. Get an immersion blender–it will change your life.
6. Once the soup is pureed, add cashew cream and heat through. Add salt, pepper, and honey to taste. If it’s too bitter, add some more honey.