Homemade Tomato and Veggie Soup

Homemade tomato and veggie soup from scratch.  Paleo, dairy free!

It’s the end of the growing season here in Chicago, and I have tomatoes coming out my ears.  Instead of passing them off to my neighbors, who mostly all have their own tomato jungles, I have been trying to use them up as they ripen.  What better way to do this than making tomato soup from scratch!  My 6 year old is an extremely picky eater with several food allergies.  I am always trying to get him to eat soup because bone broth is so healing to the gut, which will help with his allergies.  We had some amazing tomato soup from Ted’s Montana Grill a few months ago.  If you ever get a chance to go there, I recommend it.  They have paper straws there which I thought was really cool.  Until my toddler literally ate one.  He’s been eating non-food items lately, like a plastic bag at the grocery store.  Sure, there was a tasty apple inside that plastic, but still.  I think he is becoming part goat.

But this post is about soup.  Ever since we ate that delicious tomato soup from the restaurant with the paper straws, my son has been asking me for tomato soup.  When that happens (like never) I will move the earth to get him that soup.

Up until these last two weeks, I had never made tomato soup before.  I was kind of disgusted for life by Campbell’s soup until that restaurant rocked our soup lovin’ world.   I tried making it three different times before finally settling on an awesome recipe that was a hit in the home.  The first time I made it, it felt like it took all day.  Chopping and coring the tomatoes, roasting them, blending them, straining them… well, yeah.  It takes a long time.  But it’s sooo good!

And let’s keep it on the down-low that there’s veggies in here, because my son has a history of gagging on carrots and other friendly vegetables.  It must be a texture thing, but when it’s pureed up in a lovely tomato soup, down the hatch it goes!

As I mention above, this soup is a multi-step process.  First the tomatoes must be roasted to remove the skins.  Here is how I did it:

First, preheat the broiler.  I did mine on high, but prepare to really watch your tomatoes.  Slice the tomatoes in half and remove the core and most of the seeds.  Place them cut side down on a greased cookie sheet with a rim, or in my case a foil tray because I do not own a cookie sheet with a rim.  It would be best to use larger tomatoes because it will cut down on your chopping time, however we only had cherry tomatoes and so that is what I used.

slicing3

Put the tomatoes in the oven for about ten minutes.  Again, really watch them to make sure they don’t get destroyed.  Once the skin becomes a little black, take them out and let them cool.  You can remove the skin by simply pulling it off once it is cool to touch.  Throw the skins away, or compost them if you are that amazing.

Tomatosoup1

I immediately threw the tomato flesh in the blender and blended it up.

tomatoes

Next you want to start getting the actual soup ready.  In a stock pot or other large pot, melt some butter or coconut oil.  I used about 3 tablespoons.  Add about a whole chopped onion and a clove of garlic, chopped, into the pot to saute.

onions

Once the onions become translucent, pour three cups of chicken bone broth.  Once that has melted (because good broth gels in the fridge), it is time to strain the pureed tomatoes into the pot.  More tomato steps?!  These tomatoes are high maintenance. I placed a metal mesh strainer on top of my pot and gently pressed the tomato mixture through, leaving the seeds behind, which I discarded.

tomatopuree

Next I added some cauliflower and carrots and let it simmer for about an hour.  The cauliflower is great in this recipe because it offers a bit of creaminess without using coconut or dairy ingredients.  Some members of my family have a strong sense of taste and can pick out the tiniest bit of coconut.  Once I made Carrot Ginger Chicken Soup with coconut milk… it didn’t go too well.

Once the veggies are soft, add your fresh basil and spices per the recipe below.  Allow the spices to meld while the soup cools.  My husband ate it before I put it back in the blender and pureed it.  My kids and I ate it blended.  It was liked by all!

Do you have a favorite tomato soup recipe?  Please let me know in the comments below!

TomatoSoupRecipe

Recipe for delicious and creamy homemade tomato and veggie soup, dairy free and paleo!This post was shared on Wake Up Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Show and Share Wednesday, Our Three Peas’ Pin-it Party, Real Food Fridays, Natural Family Friday and Friendship Friday and Simply Natural Saturday.

Homemade Pickles

Try this homemade pickles recipe to avoid the chemicals in store bought versions!  Quick and easy!  #realfood What can I say about pickles… other than they are delicious.  They are also an easy way to get my kids to eat some veggies.  Win!

I forgot one important part though – they MUST be homemade pickles.  Have you ever looked at the ingredient label on store-bought pickles?  I haven’t bought them, well, ever.  Who wants to eat this:

Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, Polysorbate 80, natural Flavors, and Yellow #5.

We know what cucumbers, water, vinegar and salt are, so I will skip to the chemistry-lab-type ingredients.

Calcium chloride is a salt of calcium and chlorine.  It is added to products to increase the salty taste without adding a ton of sodium.  It also is a preservative and helps the pickles maintain a crunch.  Ever wonder what kind of salt those trucks throw on the roads in the winter?  It’s calcium chloride!  It is “generally recognized as safe” by the U.S. FDA to consume the amounts which are included in foods, however it reportedly causes problems for people with digestive problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Sodium Benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid. I have a real problem with this preservative, as it is included in many “organic” beauty products and “natural” food items. According to NaturalNews.com:

“Sodium benzoate chokes out your body’s nutrients at the DNA cellular level by depriving mitochondria cells of oxygen, sometimes completely shutting them down. Just as humans need oxygen to breathe, cells need oxygen to function properly and to fight off infection, including cancer.  The FDA says it’s safe because the amount used to preserve foods is very low, but don’t ever combine it with vitamin C or E, as this causes benzene to be formed. This is dangerous. Benzene is a known carcinogen, which means it causes cancer.”

There are also studies underway to determine if sodium benzoate combined with certain food coloring can cause hyperactivity in people.

Polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier which prevents the separation of ingredients as the product sits on store shelves.  According to the Environmental Working Group, this is of low health concerns.  I was surprised to see that!

Natural Flavor is chemicals added to food for flavor, which are obtained from natural sources.  This is still a chemical, identical to artificial flavoring, only derived from something natural.  It is still highly processed and greatly increases the cost of the product due to the expense of extracting the flavoring from natural sources.  According to Scientific American Online, “Consumers pay a lot for natural flavorings. But these are in fact no better in quality, nor are they safer, than their cost-effective artificial counterparts.”  I say no thank you to the “natural” and the artificial flavorings.

Yellow #5 is a food coloring agent. Yellow #5 commonly causes allergic reactions and has been linked to hyperactivity in kids.  Futher, this type of food dye, called azo dye, are processed from industrial waste and are known to cause DNA mutations.  (Source.)  We avoid all food dyes in my home!

To summarize, store-bought pickles are full of chemicals.  Homemade pickles are not.

Easy homemade pickles recipe! #toxinfree There are many different recipes for homemade pickles.  I have tried quite a few in the last few weeks.  Here is the recipe that I have had the most success with:


Homemade Pickles

Ingredients:

1 cup white vinegar

3 cups distilled water

3 tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt

1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

4 pickling cucumbers

4 large sprigs of fresh dill

3 cloves of garlic

Directions:

  1. Combine vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Immediately turn off heat and let cool completely.
  2. Wash cucumbers, trim off the ends and slice into quarters lengthwise.
  3. Place the cucumber slices in a large glass bowl with the peppercorns, garlic and dill layered throughout.
  4. Put a glass plate on top of the cucumbers to hold them under the brine.  It should be large enough to cover all of the cucumbers and small enough to fit in the bowl.
  5. After three or so days, the cucumbers should be sour.  You may transfer the pickles and brine to a glass jar if you wish.

Do you have a great pickle recipe to share?  Let me know in the comments below!

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_chloride

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705142/POLYSORBATE-80/

http://www.naturalnews.com/033726_sodium_benzoate_cancer.html

http://www.today.com/id/4676616/ns/today-today_food/t/food-qa-just-what-natural-flavoring/#.U-GRQvldXIc

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=101.22

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-the-difference-be-2002-07-29/

Gut Healing Journey – Elimination Diet Week 1 – Derailed!

We made it through the first week of attempting an elimination diet with my 6-year-old.  After a week of wracking my brain for food ideas, fighting with my son and feeding him fruit while he was distracted watching Power Rangers, I have definitely noticed an improvement in my son’s mood and listening skills.  He has been more pleasant to be around, with less whining and tantrums.  He even has developed a sense of humor unlike before, cracking jokes and using goofy sayings that he never has in the past.

I shouldn’t really call what we are doing an elimination diet.  My son is at summer camp during the day, where they serve a free lunch three days a week along with snacks.  I picked him up last Tuesday and he was eating a Ritz cracker.  That’s pretty much everything we are trying to avoid baked up into one buttery crunchy snack.  At his point, perfection is pretty much impossible.  I tried to pack him lunches which were fairly clean: sliced cucumbers or celery, bison burger with no bun, Happy Squeeze fruit and veggie pouches... most of this came back uneaten.  One day he was physically sick because he had not eaten all day.  As the week progressed I started including sandwiches made with one slice of Ezekiel bread or a gluten-free waffle, blue corn tortilla chips and gluten-free cookies.  The main reason I gave him foods which are not part of the diet was to make sure he eats something, however this is his first experience at summer camp and I want him to have amazing memories.  The other kids at camp are eating Lunchables, cookies and goldfish crackers.  While I won’t give in that far, I was willing to offer gluten-free options so we both felt happy at the end of the day.

The real difference has been at breakfast and dinner.  We have stuck to meat, veggies and fruits while he is at home and we can watch help him eat.  He still seems to be having problems swallowing dense or fibrous foods like meat or fruit, so I have to sit with him and ask him to chew still.  It can be frustrating, but the results I have seen are so motivating.

Here are some ideas on clean meals that my kids have enjoyed:

Breakfast

  • Tea with gelatin stirred in.  Every morning with breakfast my son enjoyed Egyptian Licorice Tea with a little grass-fed gelatin and raw honey stirred in.  He loves it!
  • Fruit!  Fruit is in season right now so we are enjoying everything from watermelon to peaches to berries.  I make sure to give each of my kids a large serving of fruit while I cook up something denser with protein.
  • Nitrate free sausage.  Ideally, I would get sausage from a local farm.  I used a delivery service called Irv & Shelley’s Fresh Picks, which only delivers in my area.  Farmer’s Markets often carry meat products from local farms but they can be pricey and hard to come by.  We also purchase the brand below from our local grocery store, which does not give me migraines like most processed meat.  To me, that says it’s not too bad although it is super processed.  Sausage is a great way to get some protein in my boys at breakfast, so the brand below is better than nothing.

018410_sausage

 

  • Leftover Breakfast Cakes.  I’ll admit that is the worst recipe name ever, but these are delicious and another great way to sneak some protein and veggies in at breakfast.  This morning I used a bit of leftover salmon and three egg yolks.  (I threw the whites away because my youngest is allergic and egg whites are definitely banned as part of our elimination diet.)  Season with a little salt and pepper, then cook up like a pancake.  They come out pretty well and taste delicious.  You can use left over steamed veggies or even diced up spinach or onions.  It will come out looking more like a mini omelette but tasty and nutritious nonetheless.
leftover breakfast cakes

Salmon and egg yolk… that’s it! A nutrition powerhouse for breakfast.

Lunch

  • I try to provide a protein, a fruit and a veggie in each meal along with a treat of some form.  Here are some photos of what I sent for lunch:
Ezekiel  toast, homemade popcorn, cucumber slices and Mary's Gone Crackers with nitrate-free Applegate pepperoni slices.

Ezekiel toast, homemade popcorn, cucumber slices and Mary’s Gone Crackers with nitrate-free Applegate pepperoni slices.

 

Homemade Kombucha jello, cucumber and celery slices, pepperoni and crackers (same as above) and an organic applesauce squeeze.

Homemade Kombucha jello, cucumber and celery slices, pepperoni and crackers (same as above) and an organic applesauce squeeze.  Don’t mind the lovely artistry on the napkin.

Again, he did not eat the fruit or the vegetables unless they were in pouch form, so those have been a life saver.  The jello and pepperoni he ate as long as I included an ice pack in his lunch to keep them fresh.  He will eat crackers and bread any day… of course the thing I am trying to eliminate he loves the most.  I started throwing in these or these cookies as well.

Dinner

  • Bison burgers.  I made my own recipe and did not use egg so it was safe for all.
  • Crock pot whole chicken.  See my recipe here.
  • Soup!  I made my son drink soup or broth every night.  I would put about a cup into a coffee mug and he drank it like tea.  (He likes it that way.)  I used the broth left over from the chicken.  Check out my recipe for delicious green soup here.
  • Burrito bowls.  I sautéed the leftover chicken from the crock pot with some onions, cooked up some white basmati rice, added some cilantro, fresh tomato and avocado.  With the right spices it was really good!  Read about why certain types of unprocessed white rice are a better choice than brown here.
  • Salmon.  I was hesitant to serve my kids salmon for a really long time, but recent studies are coming out showing the natural selenium in salmon aids in mercury detoxification to the point eating salmon once a week is definitely more beneficial than not.  Read this article by Chris Kresser to know more.
  • Veggies from our garden.  So far we have gotten wonderful green beans, tiny little onions and fresh basil.  I just threw the onion seeds in a large pot, so I am having to thin them out as they grow.  It’s really nice having the freshest organic produce ever to eat at home.  If only we didn’t have sub-zero winters here!

Dessert & Snacks

  • Nectarine ‘Yogurt.”  Get my recipe here.
  • Homemade Jello.  Get my recipe here.
  • Banana Ice Cream.  The best version is just frozen bananas and a little almond butter.  We added frozen strawberries last night… oh my GOD.  You can also check out a super healthy ice cream recipe here.

strawberry ice cream

I have spent a lot of thought and effort into food preparation this past week and I really feel it paid off.  My son seems to be feeling better already.  We did not eat out at all and I really focused on providing gluten, dairy, egg white and nut-free options for him.  We are still avoiding as much as we can, but if he eats a cracker or two at summer camp it is not the end of the world.  Life is about having fun, after all!  We will see if anything changes with Week 2, as we approach the 4th of July holiday!