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Food
and drink
by Shari Darling
Tomato soup is a staple in our house-
hold, enjoyed in every season. My
husband Jack and I have slurped our
way through the Bubba dictionary of
soups celebrating the tomato. (In the
movie Forrest Gump, the character of
Bubba could rhyme off a whole list of
shrimp delicacies and dishes; in my
case, tomato soups.) We have enjoyed
garden-fresh tomato soup, tomato
and rice, smoked tomato, tomato with
bacon and basil, creamy tomato with
parmesan and croutons and tomato
soup with macaroni and cheese. The
list is endless.
If the tomato grows, its soup prevails.
Paradicsomleves is the word for
Hungarian tomato soup. Gazpacho
Andaluz is traditional Spanish tomato
gazpacho – cold tomato soup. “Saar”
is the name for traditional Indian
tomato soup. Zuppa di Pomodoro is
none other than Italian tomato soup.
The name alone is enough to make
one salivate.
The tomato is so good for us. Its
soups can be meat-free, gluten-free,
fat-free and peanut-free and still
taste delicious. Even creamy tomato
soup can be dairy-free. Simply use
whipped Silken Tofu instead of
cream, to thicken the soup. We have
long known that the tomato is a
good source of vitamin C and the
antioxidant called lycopene. This fruit
is also high in vitamin K and calcium,
which strengthens bone tissue. It is
also a good source of mineral chro-
mium, which helps to stabilize blood
sugars for diabetics. New research
from Cornell University reveals that
cooking this fruit increases its level
of lycopene. However, its vitamin C
level is reduced through the cooking
process. Lycopene is believed to be
highly beneficial in preventing and
fighting cancers and heart disease. It
is an antioxidant that our body does
not naturally produce. Hence, the
importance of consuming fruits and
vegetables containing lycopene. The
tomato also contains chlorogenic
acid and coumaric acid, which help to
fight against some of the carcinogens
brought about by cigarette smoke.
Many avid home cook friends are as
obsessed with tomato soup as they
are with apple pie and family lasagna
recipes. It is a comfort food! It natural-
ly possesses two survival mechanisms
– natural sweetness and simplistic
umami. We all love sweetness. And we
also crave umami. Umami is the fifth
taste sensation; it produces roundness
and depth of flavour on the palate. We
crave umami, which allows us to retain
a healthy appetite and therefore
keeps us alive – a survival mechanism.
As the tomato ripens and ages, the
level of umami increases. When slow-
cooked, umami moves from simplistic
to synergistic, increasing dramatically.
(Hence our addiction to ketchup! It
is nothing more than slow-cooked
tomatoes with synergistic umami and
sweetness.)
I’m personally a fan of gardenfresh
tomato soup made from pureed
beefsteak tomatoes straight off the
vine. I serve this soup both hot and
cold. I love the pure taste of the
tomato. I season the soup with sea
salt, pepper, high-quality extra-virgin
olive oil and finely chopped basil.
Then I garnish each bowl with a heavy
dollop of crème fraiche or Greek
yogurt, depending on my mood. The
trick is to heat up the soup quickly,
thus allowing it to retain its garden-
fresh flavour and acidity. The soup is
meant to be hot, not cooked.
If serving wine alongside to-
mato soup, consider its predominant
flavours. Fresh tomato soup as
described above sings with natural
acidity and so demands a white wine
with crisp acidity to match. Try Pinot
Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde,
dry Riesling. Soup made from slow-
roasted tomatoes will have intense
fruitiness and low acidity and can,
therefore, partner with a red wine. Try
Merlot. If you add bacon or cheese
such as blue or parmesan, a big red
wine will also work. Even Cabernet
Franc or Zinfandel. Smoked tomato
soup also works nicely with red
wine.
Tomatoes