Since I started cooking for the family, I used a lot of tomatoes in our meals because they are my little “big” boy’s favourite. He can eat any types of tomatoes be it raw or cooked, with or without skin, with or without seeds. In short, he is a TOMATO lover!
Generally most of us know that tomato contains lycopene (the red pigment in tomato). It is a powerful antioxidant that can also fight cancer cells. How about those interesting facts mentioned in here and here?
~ Tomato is a fruit (Do you agree? Definitely not me)
~ When choosing your tomatoes, be sure to pick those with the most brilliant shades of red. They have the highest amounts of betacarotene and lycopene.
~ Store them at room temperature, as putting them in the fridge will alter their ripening process and ruin their flavor
~ Cooked tomatoes are a more concentrated source of lycopene than raw ones
~ Cooking the tomato in olive oil allows your body to absorb the lycopene better.
~ Tomatoes don’t lose any of their nutritional value in the high heat processing , making canned tomatoes and tomato sauce are both just as viable and beneficial as fresh tomatoes.
If you are a tomato lover like my son, then try this simple and tasty fresh tomato soup. This recipe adapted and modified from BBC Good Food.
1 medium onion
1 small carrot
1 celery stick
3 tbsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
600g hot vegetable stock ( I use chicken stock)
Dash of dried basil and oregano
A pinch of salt
Dash of ground black pepper
A good pinch of sugar
1) Cut each tomato into quarters and slice off any hard cores (they don’t soften during cooking and you’d get hard bits in the soup at the end).
2) Chop onion, carrot and celery stick into small pieces.
3) Spoon oil into a large cooking pot and heat it over a low heat.
4) Hold your hand over the pot until you can feel the heat rising from the oil, then tip in the onion and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook it until translucent.
5) Add in carrot and celery and cook the vegetables until they are soft and faintly coloured. This sho uld take about 10 minutes. Stir them 2-3 times so they cook evenly and don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
6) Add in tomato puree and stir it around so it turns the vegetables red.
7) Add in fresh tomatoes.
8) Add in sugar, dried basil, dried oregano, bay leaves and black pepper. Stir to mix well.
9) Put the lid on the pot and let the tomatoes stew over a low heat for 10mins until they shrunk down in the pot and their juices flow nicely. Stir occasionally to keep everything well mixed.
10) Slowly pour in the stock, stirring at the same time to mix it with the vegetables. Turn up the heat as high as it will go and wait until everything is bubbling, then turn the heat down to low again and put the lid back on the pan. Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times until the tomatoes break down and become slushy looking.
11) Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down. Discard the bay leaves.
12) Blend the soup until smooth.
13) Pour the puree soup back into the pot and reheat it over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until you can see bubbles breaking gently on the surface.
14) Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings (salt, pepper and sugar) if needed.
15) Add more tomato puree if the colour of the soup is not deep enough red.
16) Serve and enjoy!