According to Chinese Medicine, at the end of August we enter into a fifth transitional season, called late summer. This season, which shifts us from summer into fall, is associated with our digestive system and the Earth element. This also happens to be the time that we New Englanders are still raking in the bounty of summer crops, such as tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers. As a result, many of us will suffer the consequences of too much caprese salad, ice cream and raw veggies. An excess of these iced and raw foods, especially when mixed with the cold dampness of dairy, can lead to digestive upset, such a loose stool, diarrhea, nausea and loss of appetite, during this season where the digestive system is vulnerable. The weaker your digestive system, the more this will affect you.
Since one of the only things we grew well in our little vegetable garden this year were tomatoes, we enjoyed our fair share of caprese salads. Now our bodies are begging for warm, cooked and easy to digest foods. However, I’m not ready to give up on summer yet, so I created this summery tomato soup that celebrates the garden flavors of fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil. This soup was also inspired by the delicious tomato soup, which my friend’s mom, Dana Grossman from Vermont, makes for her family.
My daughter doesn’t much care for soup and this is sort of a thorn in my side. Chinese Medicine tells us that soup is one of the best things that we can eat because it is chock full of nourishing broth and vegetables and is super easy to digest. All the food that you eat needs to be turned into a 100℉ soup once it reaches your stomach. The closer the food is to a 100℉ soup, the easier it is for you to digest and the more efficiently your body is able to extract the nourishment that it needs from that food without causing any digestive upset in the process.
So…when I found out that my daughter LOVED this soup when she ate over our friend’s house the other night, I knew I needed to try and replicate it! I had graciously been served this soup before and remembered that I liked that it included carrots. In the original version the carrots remain sliced, but my daughter prefers a pureed soup, so of course, that is what you will find here.
Carrots nourish and strengthen your qi and they are very supportive to the digestive system. This is why we feed cooked pureed carrots to babies—they are nourishing and easy to digest. Carrots are also very detoxifying to the liver and they are packed with eye-nourishing vitamin A, fiber and cancer fighting antioxidants.
Tomatoes cool, detoxify and nourish the fluids in your body. They help detoxify the liver, cool the late summer heat or inflammation within your body, combat dehydration and support your digestion system, kidneys and prostate. Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to prevent heart disease and a number of cancers. Cooked tomatoes are one of the best way to get your lycopene.
I served this soup with grilled cheese sandwiches made from fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh chopped garden basil, because I can’t say goodbye to summer quite yet! Although I loved the way the soup turned out, my daughter reports that the soup was “almost as good” as our friend’s soup. As most parents know, kids are the toughest food critics.
Be sure to leave a comment and let me know how you and your family enjoyed the soup!
4 pounds peeled and diced tomatoes (about 8 cups)
3 medium carrots, sliced (1.5 cups)
2 medium onions, diced (2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of rice flour (or regular all purpose flour)
4 cups homemade chicken bone broth
1.5 teaspoons of salt
3 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
- If you are using fresh garden tomatoes you need to first peel the tomatoes. You do this by scoring (cutting an X into the skin at) the bottom of each tomato and placing it in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and then allow them to cool. Once cooled you can easily peel off the tomato skins and dice the peeled tomatoes. If you are using canned or jarred tomatoes you can skip this step!
- Chop carrots, onions and garlic and set aside.
- In a large 8 quart soup pot, heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the diced onions, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and sautée over medium heat until the onions are soft.
- Add the bay leaves, garlic and carrots and sautée until fragrant (about 3 more minutes).
- Push the onion, garlic and carrots to the side of the pan and add another tablespoon of olive oil in the center of the pan. Add the flour to the well of oil in the center of the pan and gently fry for several minutes. Be careful not to burn the flour! You are just lightly cooking the flour in the oil.
- Whisk in the chicken broth, assuring that the flour does not clump.
- Add the diced tomatoes and the rest of the salt to the broth and vegetables and bring to a very low simmer. Simmer slowly on low for about 20 minutes.
- Add the fresh basil and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar and additional salt and pepper to taste.
- For a smooth and creamy soup, remove the bay leaves and blend with an immersion blender and serve.