Inhaling the aroma of a steaming bowl of canned tomato soup, while gazing at its velvety orange-red color, recalls for many people comforting childhood memories.

In fact, tomato soup ranks high on the list of American comfort foods. It warms our psyches as much as our bodies, and has the natural sweetness of tomatoes – which are, as everyone by now knows, a fruit.

One of the greatest culinary challenges is achieving a home-made version of favorite comfort foods. Mother’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies, for example, is better than any commercial brand – and a lot more healthful.

Similarly, I enjoy the challenge of creating a tastier and more healthful tomato soup in my own kitchen.

Unfortunately, food manufacturers rely mostly on salt and sweeteners to provide flavor – relatively cheap additions for the producer, but often high in health risks for the consumer.

Happily, it is not difficult or time-consuming to make tomato soup at home that is low in sodium but still offers a satisfying flavor.

There are smart, healthful ways to add flavor to foods without adding unnecessary calories or excessive sodium levels. Onion, garlic, herbs and spices, for example, add valuable nutrients, and the phytochemicals that help protect us from serious chronic diseases, as well as rich and robust flavor.

So make good on your New Year’s resolution to eat more healthful foods, and give yourself an added treat: enticing aromas that fill the kitchen and the satisfying flavor of homemade tomato soup.

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This classic tomato soup uses just enough butter and fat-free cream to ensure rich creaminess, and a very modest amount of sugar to bring out the natural sweetness and flavor of tomatoes.

Old-Fashioned Tomato Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

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  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can (28-oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. ground mace
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh herbs, such as snipped fresh dill, chopped fresh basil or even sprouts! (for garnish, optional)

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a small Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until translucent, 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until the onions are golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the sugar, thyme, mace and cayenne. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer the soup until the tomatoes and onion are soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Let the soup sit 20 minutes, uncovered. Transfer it to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and reduce the mixture to a puree, either pulpy or completely smooth, as desired. Blend in the half-and-half. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the soup hot, sprinkling one-fourth of the fresh herbs over each bowl, if using.

Nutritional Information Per serving (1/4 of recipe):
Calories: 105,
Fat: 3 g,
Carbohydrate: 18 g,
Protein: 3 g,
Dietary Fiber: Less than 1 g,
Sodium: 586
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Reduced-Fat Milk, 1 Vegetable