Yesterday was one of those drab, cold & rainy days that befall us a couple of times each spring. The kind that makes you crave something delicious, warm, creamy & soothing. Not exactly a good vehicle for the "new & improved" Beth plan. Having invested well at the farmers market over the weekend, I decended into my basement to grab a couple of jars of the fresh NJ plum tomatoes I canned last summer and whipped up some amazingly yummy, 100% real food, or as I like to call it, "a nice simmering pan of cozy": Tomato Soup.
After slurping down a hot mug of comfort, I hopped online to see just what is in a good ole' can (with the red & white label) of condensed tomato soup to find this:
Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste)Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Wheat Flour, Salt, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola and/or Soybean)Flavoring, Ascorbic Acid, and Citric Acid.
High fructose corn syrup. Bleh. Translation: sweeter than hell concoction derived by super heating/processing what is probably genetically engineered (um, FAKE) corn.
Wheat flour. Hmm...I thought we were making soup, not bread. Incidentally, this makes the popular brand NOT gluten-free for those of you with sensitivities.
No less than 4 types of oils. I will save my rant about these oils for another time. Notice that one of them is corn oil, probably from the same type sort of fake, uber-engineered robo-corn as the corn syrup.
Flavoring. What the hell does that mean?
Ascorbic Acid, and Citric Acid Have these people never heard of a lemon? (shhh...don't tell anyone, but lemons actually contain both of these "acids". I know, it's a big secret.)
So...the ingredients in my tomato soup? Tomatoes (grown and canned fresh at home during the summer of 2009), red bell pepper, onion, garlic, water, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, salt & pepper.
If you are saying to yourself right now. "Hey, I know those things!!!", you are right, you do. BECAUSE THEY ARE REAL FOOD. And they, or rather, the sum of their parts - the soup - was amazingly delicious.
As a side note to this, I have been attempting to eat mostly "real" unprocessed food for about 4 weeks now, give or take. I have not been perfect, and I will tell you that the hardest thing for me to quit is the one thing that is the absolute WORST for me - artifical sweeteners (does anyone one know of a 12 step program for these?). But I am trying. I do my best to forgo anything from a box, bag, can, jar or freezer, with reasonable exceptions (natural peanut butter, for example). In that four weeks, without changing much of anything else, I have lost a little over 8 lbs. I really do believe that fake ingredients, hidden uneccessary fats & starches, and poor basic health related to a diet full of garbage was keeping me fat. In addition to losing some weight I am feeling so much better. I have energy I have never had before, and the result is I am moving more. Not necessarily "working out" but definitely more active.
If you think that cooking this way is just too daunting, think again, First, this batch of soup will be at least a couple of meals for my family, and cost next to nothing to make. Even if you don't have any desire to grow tomatoes or hoof-it to a farmstand, your grocery store has everything you need. I wholeheartedly recommend organic produce if you are going to store-buy, but truthfully, I think even just committing to eating home-prepared food is better than canned every day of the week. Secondly, I mostly dumped food in a pan, put it in the oven, took it out, pureed it and stirred now and then. Seriously. I spent most of the time it was cooking doing other things.
Try it. It'll make you feeeeeeel gooooood.
To make the soup:
Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice, toss everything except the basil into a shallow pan with a little bit of olive oil, roast at 425 untill it is all nice and soft and a little browned on the edges. Puree it in a food processor (I let mine cool a bit so as to not have the contents exploding on my ceiling). Mix the reserved tomato juice and some water to loosen the caramelly brown bits from the bottom of the roasting pan, and pour that, the fresh basil (slivered) and the pureed veggies into a pan to simmer for a bit, until you like the thickness of it. Taste for salt & pepper, and adjust. Thats's it!
For more real food ideas, resources and recipes, go to Real Food Wednesday.