One of the things I love most about food is that it can evoke unexpected emotions. Has this ever happened to you? Sometimes when I'm cooking, I'll smell something and suddenly I'm transported to my grandparent's farm. Other times, just the flavors themselves seem to emit a time of the year, for example the recently discovered cucumber discs with cheese taste just like Summer.
This weekend, my husband and I went to my parents' house for a visit. For one of the meals, several of my extended family members joined us. I cooked up my newly discovered chile-cornmeal crusted tofu (and some had chicken, which the meat-eaters thought was excellent) slathered with pumpkin seed mole sauce. It was one of those meals that just fell together naturally. Had I planned it more overtly, I don't think it would have been nearly as good.
Ayurvedic cooking believes that when you cook, your emotions get infused with the food and can enhance or hinder the flavors. I know it sounds strange, but I was in harmony with my cooking of this meal, and I remember sitting at the table and feeling a strong sense of connectedness with the others at the table. I was not only feeding my body, but also feeding my soul.
We devoured every bite of food on the table.
This Creamy Tomato Soup recipe evokes pure comfort. The "creaminess" comes from tofu, not cream. This is the first time I used tofu in my soup to add a cream factor, and I must admit I was a little nervous as to how it would affect the flavor. Cream and tofu do not taste the same; however, the do add they same texture. Because both have a very mild flavor, the difference in the flavor of this soup is also very small.
Plus, adding tofu instead of cream greatly improves nutritional profile of the soup:
- Calories: 207 (Tofu) vs. 302 (Cream)
- Total Fat: 11.7 (Tofu) vs. 24.3 (Cream)
- Saturated Fat: 1.6 (Tofu) vs. 10.4 (Cream)
- Cholesterol: 0 (Tofu) vs. 54.3 (Cream)
- Protein: 7.4 (Tofu) vs. 4.6 (Cream)
This idea of infusing our food with food for our souls was also explored in a book I recently finished called The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate. In this book, the main character teaches cooking classes using her grandmother's recipes. The unique thing about the recipes is that they all have ingredients like "one wish" or "one sad thought" or "one happy thought" in addition to the regular ingredients. While it was a fictional story (and a bit of a fluffy read), there is some truth to how the quality of a dish can be influenced by our state of mind when cooking it.
Creamy Tomato Soup
3-4 servings, 40 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 28 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 handful fresh parsley, minced
8 ounces (1/2 package) soft silken tofu
Salt and pepper to taste
1 hopeful thought
- In a large sauce pan, head 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and fennel. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until soft and fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes and parsley. Let flavors meld for at least 15 minutes.
- Stir in the silken tofu. Then, using an immersion blender, blend until creamy smooth.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Leftovers taste fantastic too!