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Great soup? Grandma's got that

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Tomato soup is a great dish--one of the most nourishing soups you can make, with a minimum of ingredients. It is as good for you as spaghetti sauce, unless you throw in more protein into the sauce with ground beef. If you just do one thing to make it more appetizing, you have one of the world's premiere dishes to build a meal around.

The one step I refer to is taking just a little time to peel and seed the tomatoes you are going to use. You'll need about 3-3/4 cups of chopped tomatoes, which will be about five or six of the everyday organic tomatoes that you can find at Sprouts or Whole Foods in Tucson. If you drop over to the Food Conspiracy Co-Op in the University area, you can find their heirloom tomatoes in various dramatic colors as well.

When you get home, set a pot of water to boil on the stove while you unpack the groceries. Then when the water is boiling merrily, make an X-shaped cut in the lower end of each tomato, and pierce it with a fork on the stem end. Immerse each tomato in the boiling water for 30 seconds and then take it out to see if the skin has begun to peel off the cut end.

When it is, take out that tomato and begin the process with each one until they are all ready to peel. The brief dip in hot water will not bring the temperature of the tomatoes to a dangerous level, so you can proceed with peeling them right away (carefully). You can use a dinner knife to peel back the skin from the cut end up towards the stem end.

After that, you seed them by cutting them right across the center crosswise, and squeezing out the seeds, along with the jelly that they live in. After that, chop them, measure them and go on to the rest of the recipe.

This process will produce soup that tastes better. The jelly inside, where the seeds are, does not add anything to the flavor, and in raw tomatoes the jelly has rather a bitter taste. Seeding regular tomatoes (even cherry and grape tomatoes) before adding them to a salad will also reduce the watery quality of raw tomatoes and improve your salads, by the way.

GRANDMOTHER'S TOMATO SOUP

From Grandmother's Best Cookbook

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons organic butter
1 organic onion, chopped fine
3-3/4 cups peeled, seeded and chopped organic tomatoes
2-1/2 cups organic chicken broth or vegetable stock
Pinch of sugar
2 Tablespoons shredded basil, plus more for garnish
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh organic parsley
Salt and ground white pepper
Croutons for garnish

Sweat the onions in half the butter over medium-high heat in a soup pot for about 5 minutes, or until they are translucent.

Add the tomatoes, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the broth or stock, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes longer, stirring frequently.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to break up the tomato and onion chunks. Add the sugar, the rest of the butter and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

By the way, I hope you noticed that, aside from preparing the tomatoes, this is just a matter of half an hour of cooking. This elegant soup, which can also be served with crusty bread and a nice wine, can be light and lovely, leaving you room for a dessert if it happens to be a special evening (which I hope it is!).

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