Friday, March 28, 2014

Tomato - Spinach Soup

We’re taking a break from lentils and other legumes in this post. Instead we have a light, yet nourishing soup that’s easy to make and can be served any time of year, thanks to the availability of great-quality canned tomatoes. Of course, when tomatoes are in season, use those instead. There’s more work involved with fresh tomatoes – removing the skin and seeds - but it’s worth the effort.
Tomato-Spinach Soup

To remove the skins and seeds of fresh tomatoes, use this simple boiling water technique:

1. Place a large pot of water on the stove top. Bring to a rolling boil. Set aside a large bowl of ice water.
2. Rinse tomatoes and remove any stems.

Blossom end of tomato
3. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow “X” at the blossom end of the tomato (opposite the stem end).

Stem end of tomato
4. Gently slide 3 to 4 tomatoes into the boiling water at a time. Keep them in only until the skin around the “X” starts to split – no more than 25 to 30 seconds. NOTE: Tomatoes will begin to cook and get mushy if left in too long!

5. Using a slotted spoon, immediately remove each tomato and plunge them into the bowl of ice water.

6. Remove the tomatoes from the water, and begin to gently peel the skin starting at the “X”. Discard skin.

7. Carefully cut the tomatoes in half and gently scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Discard the seeds.

Now you’re ready to proceed with the recipe!

Tomato - Spinach Soup
Serves 4 

    2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    1 large clove garlic, minced
    3 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth, or water
    ¼ cup Marsala, optional
   28-oz. can diced tomatoes (including the liquid)
   1-1/2 tsp. brown sugar
   2 tsp. Herbs d’ Provence (or a combination of dried oregano and dried basil)
   1 – 10 oz. pkg. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed (Fresh chopped spinach or Swiss chard may be substituted)
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large, nonreactive saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 8 minutes.
2. Add the broth (or water), Marsala (if using), tomatoes with liquid, brown sugar, dried herbs, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-high heat while stirring the mixture. Cook for 15 minutes.
 3. Cool soup slightly, then purée in small batches in a blender or food processor. Rinse the soup pot and return the puréed soup to the pot.
4. Add the spinach, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat if necessary.
Serve warm.
NOTE: It’s best to make this one day in advance so the flavors have time to blend. This soup freezes well, too.

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