25 September 2008

"Creamless Tomato Soup'... O foods for Ovarian Cancer awareness month

I seem to have lost my post from yesterday, so this one will be a little more streamlined to say the least.
Cancer seems to touch all of our lives in it's many forms and I'm sure all of us have or will lose someone to one form or another of this heartbreaking disease. We lost Fabrizio's Aunt Viola 2 years ago to ovarian cancer. She was a charming, cultured woman with a very dry sense of humor and kept the tidiest apartment I've ever been in. I barely got to know her, and feel cheated that we lost her so quickly.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of Gina DePalma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are asking you to donate to the:

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (via FirstGiving.org)

You can find out more details about their contest by visiting any of their sites or clicking here or here. You can also find out more about the symptoms further down this post.

I am offering up a Creamless Tomato soup as part of the effort to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. It's a recipe I found on the Cooks Illlustrated site, via their newsletter. The site has quite a few free recipes, but most are only available if you become a paid subscriber. This particular recipe I found by way of a link on their newsletter. It's really a stand out recipe as there isn;t a drop of cream in it with bread standing in as the creamy substitute and acidic tamer with out sacrificing tangy full on tomato flavor. I made a few notable changes in that I halved the recipe and used fresh tomatoes instead of tinned ones. Right now the tomatoes are still in full force and would be a shame not to use them as they are so flavorful and juicy, they are simply impossible to resist. It helps too that several friends have given us a few from their over flow from their gardens.

You can find the original recipe at Cooks Illustrated, here.

Creamless Tomato Soup


2 Tb olive oil , plus more for drizzling
1 small onion , chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves , minced
Pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
800 g fresh tomatoes, juicy ripe ones were the best, chopped
1 t brown sugar, very optional
2 large slices good-quality bread , torn into 1-inch pieces I used the crusts as long as they weren't too tough
1 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoons brandy (optional)
salt and ground black pepper
2 T chopped fresh mint or maybe even basil or chives

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy pan and add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until there are no large pieces remaining.
  • Stir in the bread; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.
  • I used an immersion wand and blended it.
  • Then I added the chicken broth and optional brandy and blended it again it it seemed to need it.
  • If you don't have one of those a blender works also. Blend half of the soup at time.
  • Return soup to boil and adjust seasonings to your taste with salt, pepper and a touch of brown sugar if your soup is a tad too acidic. I didn't use the sugar as I found it overwhelmed the bright flavor of the fresh tomatoes. Canned tomatoes might be a different story.
  • Serve soup in individual bowls.
  • Sprinkle each portion with fresh chopped mint and drizzle with olive oil and a twist of spice from your pepper mill.
  • Other garnishes might be fresh made garlic olive oil croutons, cubed, sauted, or oven roasted aubergine or oven roasted tomatoes. I also like toasted seeds, like sunflower, pumpkin and sesame, sometimes all mixed together, that have a touch of tamari/soy sauce added to them at the end. then there is the Italian favorite stand by, especially if you didn't get the salt just right, fresh grated Parmesan

I added the last of my "viole"(Johnny Jump ups where I grew up) from the garden, because not only do they make for an eye catching presentation, they remind me of Zia Viola.
We miss you.

From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

  • Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease.
  • The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
  • In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
  • When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.

Please donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
and help spread the word!


Proud Italian Cook said...

Beautiful soup Marla and I love the way you ended it with the flower that reminded you of Zia Viola, very touching!

Lori Lynn said...

Great recipe for a great cause Marla. I, like Marie, thought the viole flowers for your aunt were a very sweet addition.

TorAa said...

Thanks for this recipe.

ps. be aware of the fact tomatoes can hurt many peoples stomach/digestive system

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Marla, I love your O Foods recipe! And I really like the idea of a creamy, creamless soup! I'll have to try using the bread.

I'm sure those that have digestive problems with tomatoes will know immediately from the name of the if they'll have to avoid it ;)

Bella Baita Marla said...

Thanks Marie and Lori Lynn. Flowers for me really do evoke a lot of specific memories.

I hope this recipe doesn't upset your digestive tract Toraa. I do think the bread tames the acidity quite well, but if you have tomato problems then probably just avoiding them is the best course.
Thanks Sara. I think the bread could be a good stand in for cream in other soups as well. Get's the imagination going.

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