Soul-stice Soup

Today is the winter solstice, the day that marks the end of one solar year and the beginning of the next. In the Northern Hemisphere, we will experience the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is a time of celebration and reflection, a time to ruminate over what has transpired and a time to party like you just graduated from college… which I kind of did. This day, for me, marks the completion of my Holistic Nutrition course which I began in 2014. The past two years have definitely not been a walk in the proverbial park, but they have brought many lessons and much abundance in fairly unexpected ways. So I am celebrating. Celebrating the end of one cycle that is clearing the way for a new one to begin. And guess how I’m gonna do it… With soup!
The recipe I would like to share with you is for a soul-warming tomato bisque, and I want to tell you just how special tomatoes are and why they are the perfect vegetable (fruit!) to light our way into the new year. Tomatoes are brimming with antioxidants which are so important at this time of year when stress is high, nerves are frayed, and the performance of our immune systems may not be up to snuff. Antioxidants essentially keep our bodies from aging. They protect our cells from the damage generally caused by these little doodads called free radicals. The antioxidants found in tomatoes play key rolls in heart and bone health, as well as cancer prevention.

So let’s end/start this thing on a delicious note with a soup that not only stokes the coals of the soul, but fires up our immune systems and helps us to endure this winter and come out swing dancin’ on the other side!

Plant-based Tomato Bisque
yields about 5 servings

The Goods:

4 pints cherry/plum tomatoes
2 medium-large carrots, 1/2 inch slices
3 stalks celery, 1/2 inch slices
1 red bell pepper, 1 inch chunks
1 red onion, 1/2 inch dice
9 cloves garlic, rough chop
6 sundried tomato halves
1/2 cup cashews, soaked
3 cups veggie stock or water
1-2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons each: rosemary, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
salt and pepper to taste

optional garnish: avocado, scallion, cilantro, pepitas

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The Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Get your tomatoes, onion, carrots, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and herbs together in a bowl and toss with oil, salt, and pepper. Lay them out on a lined baking sheet and put them in the oven for about 15 minutes. At this point, you’ll want to stir them around a bit, then throw them back in for another 15. When they’re done they should resemble the photo on the right.

Once the veggies are all roasty toasty, put a pot large enough to hold at least 4 quarts heating on the stove on low heat. Toss in your spices and bay leaf. Don’t walk away and forget about these guys because they WILL burn. I’ve done it a million times. We are going to multi-task here, but there is no need to waste your hard-earned spices.

While you’ve got your mind on toasting spices and toasting spices on your mind, you’re gonna head over to the old high speed blender. In two separate batches, puree your roasted vegetables with the cashews, sundried tomatoes, and veggie stock (or water). When those spices become fragrant, pour the puree into the pot and crank the heat… well, maybe don’t crank it, but kick it up like one notch. Keep your chef coat on, Emeril. Basically, you wanna bring this baby to a simmer, cover, and stir occasionally for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

When all is said and done, garnish to your heart’s content! I always go for avo, but that’s just me. You do you, and remember to carry that sentiment with you into the new year. Be brave, be bold, be your bright beautiful self and don’t be afraid to share it! Love and blessings to you!

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