Replacing tomato in soup?

November 12, 2020

Short answer:

  • deglaze your pan with lemon juice, after sauteeing aromatics
  • use a bit of chopped spinach in the soup to balance the lemon
  • stir in white miso toward the end of cooking

Long answer:

I made lentil soup today, and it tastes like it has tomatoes in it. I am nightshade-intolerant, so I don’t add tomatoes to anything, but I remembered that a while ago, I got a question about how to replace tomatoes and/or tomato paste in soup, which I didn’t answer because I didn’t know what to do.

[Full disclosure: I’ve been out of the nightshade-eating game for well over 10 years now, so my determination of tomato-like flavor could be off. My nightshade-eating husband said the soup did not taste particularly tomato-y to him, but had a nice umami flavor, and he recommended half of whatever was the “zing,” which I’m assuming was the lemon – see recipe below.]

Today, I made soup to use up a bunch of random stuff, and the soup came out amazing, so I thought I’d share.

Cook in heavy-bottom, oven-safe pan
makes 6 servings

  • 3 TBS pork fat or ghee (I used pan drippings from last night’s pork chops)
  • 1/2 cup tasso ham, trimmed and diced
  • 3 large leeks, trimmed and diced
  • 1 small lemon (juice only) – [husband suggested 1/2 lemon’s juice would be better]
  • 1 cup raw butternut squash, trimmed, peeled, de-seeded, diced (if you have leftover already-cooked squash, I’m sure it would be fine)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb fresh spinach, well-washed, well-drained, chopped (if you have some that is already cooked with excess liquid squeezed out, that’s fine, but the amount would be around 1 packed cup)
  • 2 cans Bioitalia Organic Lentils (14 oz / 400 g each), well-rinsed (These are the only canned lentils I will use – if I didn’t have these, I’d just cook the lentils myself – I don’t know why these are so good, but they just are.)
  • 1 Bonafide Frontier Blend Bone Broth, 24 fl oz (or your own bone broth – just note the ingredients in this bone broth so get the flavor right – also, for you no-nightshaders, this is a safe broth)
  • 2 TBS white miso (I used Miso Master Organic Mellow White Miso)

Sauté diced leeks over medium heat, and ham in pork fat until leeks are translucent and fragrant, and there just starts to be some browning on the bottom of the pan.

Deglaze pan with fresh lemon juice, stirring to get all browned bits incorporated.

Add butternut squash, carrots, spinach, and continue stirring, until everything is coated nicely. If you need moisture in the pan, add a little more fat, or a little bit of stock, so nothing burns.

Then, making sure the lentils are drained and rinsed, add them to the pot. Add the stock as well. Pre-heat oven to 300ºF. Stir everything in pan well, and (still over medium heat) bring to a boil.

Once soup gets to a boil, shut off heat on stove. Stir in miso, incorporating it well throughout the soup (you might need to break up the miso a bit). Then, (optional) put the pan, uncovered, in the oven for approximately 30 minutes.

You can just eat the soup after it’s cooked for a while on the stove, but the low, slow cooking in the oven really tenderizes the ham chunks, thickens the soup, and brings the flavors together really nicely. When I took it out, it was more flavorful than it was on the stove, and it was very thick, like a stew. I’ll probably add more broth or some water when I reheat it again.

NOTE: I used a 5.5-Qt All Clad D5 dutch oven to cook this in. <— the link goes to an amazon page where the dutch oven is $384.95 at the time of this writing. I just want you to see what it looks like. I just bought mine through HomeandCookSales for $182.80 in Sept 2020, and I love it! HomeandCookSales runs “VIP Facotry Seconds” sales for All-Clad and other brands, and while it’s hit or miss what they’ll have, they’re totally legit. I mention this pan specifically, because the D5 line is made in America (some All-Clad is, and some isn’t), AND because the D5 indicates there are 5 layers of metal (alternating aluminum and steel), so it’s a heavy-weight pan (things don’t burn as easily), it’s oven-safe, and the lid fits nice and tight (great for braising). If you can get one of these things on sale, DO IT!!!!


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