After nine months on the Keto diet, my low carb meals have evolved to become simple and healthy.
Meals don’t have to be difficult and I rarely follow a recipe. Vegetables are at the top of my list when I shop, and they make up the bulk of the food I eat. Often I eat vegetables, with an egg, for my “breakfast”, which I eat at noon.
Many Meals Begin With Homemade Broth, or Stock
One thing I do quite often is make my own broth, or stock. The beef broth is made with bones I buy from the butcher. I bake the bones first to brown them, then add to water in my LeCrueset along with the bones, and fat that leaks out of the bones while they bake. Don’t skim off the fat! This is the good fat we need in our diets!
Chicken stock is made from the carcass of a baked chicken. Vegetable broth is of course made from only using vegetables.
Vegetables such as onion, celery, carrots, peppers, and herbs such as parsley and basil can be included. The vegetables don’t have to be perfect – use up older veggies this way. I usually add bay leaves too. The vegetables I add depends on what is around the house. Nothing has to be added, but the veggies add nutrients and flavor.
Simple Scallops and Green Beans Meal
Seafood is a favorite of mine and this simple meal consists of fresh scallops which cook up quickly in a frying pan. The frozen green beans were boiled in water then topped with butter. That’s it! Serve with a salad if you like.
Ground Turkey, Asparagus and Shallots
Cook ground turkey (or chicken) in a pan. Remove the meat. Add butter and / or oil with pieces of fresh asparagus and sauce until nearly tender, then add sliced onions and return ground turkey to the pan.
Tamari or soy sauce can be added at this point, unless sodium is a problem.
Beef and Cabbage Keto Meal
In a large pot brown ground beef. Add spices and herbs as you like. Remove the beef once it’s cooked and use the same pot to cook the cabbage. Slice a head of cabbage into “noodles” and boil them until tender. Either use water with (sodium free) bullion, or use homemade beef stock if you have it. I cook the cabbage in a small amount of liquid and don’t drain it.
Add the beef back to the pot, and some tomato sauce, or chopped tomatoes. Cook a bit longer (10-15 minutes) for flavors to combine.
Cheeseburger Using Lettuce as “Bun”
Buy lettuce with big leaves and wrap a juicy bacon-cheeseburger inside. I honestly don’t eat much bacon, but this burger was delicious with onions, pickles, cheese and bacon.
Fresh vegetables are difficult to find, or have been for me. You may think that a sunny, hot place like Florida would be full of wonderful produce, but that is not the case. Apparently it is too sunny and too hot. I’ve tried to garden here without luck. So the local Florida growers who are able to supply beautiful peppers and tomatoes like the ones in my photo here, make me feel grateful. Now that I have found some luscious produce, I will make homemade tomato soup from scratch.
Searching For a Tomato Soup Recipe
If you have ever searched online for any type of recipe you know how overwhelming it can be to find a good version. Food blogs are popular and in many cases copies of other food blogs. In other words the writer has never made the food themselves. Food photos are available for free and to buy, so anyone who wants to can pretend to be a foodie. There is money in the advertising and if you notice, most food blogs have many ads and popups everywhere. For this reason I have been wading through blogs featuring tomato soup recipes to find what I want.
My soup will be made entirely from fresh ingredients, as opposed to canned, and all I need to know is what basic additions to make to the obvious one.
Here’s a list of the ingredients I will be using:
Fresh, delicious tomatoes (thank you Ingrid’s Produce)
bell peppers (yellow orange red and green)
garlic, finely chopped – about 6 cloves
vegetable broth (my own from the freezer)
basil, parsley (from my garden)
sugar (cuts down the acidity of the tomatoes)
Putting it All Together
My plan was to roast the peppers on the grill and remove the skins. That didn’t work out too well because they didn’t blacken enough and the skin didn’t come off. Today I will roast them in the oven and try again. This worked, and I peeled the skin and chopped the pepper pieces to add to the vegetables in the pot.
The 12 tomatoes will be blanched in boiling water and then the skin will be removed.
While the water heats to boiling, cut “X” marks in the bottom of each tomato. I read somewhere to do this and it greatly helps when peeling off the skin!
Use a big pot, like a dutch oven like mine, and bring the water to a full boil. Use a slotted spoon or some large scoop to put the tomatoes into the boiling water. They only need to be in the water for 30 seconds to a minute – seriously… Get them out when they look wizzled. I did all my tomatoes at once, but I should have done 6 at a time.
Be sure the ice water is ready so the tomatoes can go directly in when they come out of the boiling water. I needed a bigger bowl for this! All my tomatoes barely fit. As you can see, the skins have split and are ready to be peeled. Start at the bottom where you made that X and they come right off.
While I waited for the water to come to a boil for the tomatoes I chopped the roasted peppers, celery (3 stalks), whole onion, garlic cloves (around 6), and put them into the broth in my dutch oven. I used my big 6 quart Lodge pot because my LeCreuset pot was too small.
Save Your Own Broth
By the way, the broth I used was saved in my freezer from previously cooked vegetables. Don’t dump that vitamin rich water down the drain when cooking beans, peas, carrots, asparagus, etc., save it in the freezer in a large container and add to it as you boil veggies. It can be used in soup, stew, gravy, chili, and whatever later on.
While the vegetables and broth simmered, I chopped up the tomatoes. I’m not sure they really needed to be chopped, but I did. I coarsely chopped them and removed the top stem area, and then added them to the other veggies in the pot. At this point I added chopped parsley and basil from my garden and other herbs from my spice rack, including a tiny bit of salt and some black pepper.
I almost forgot the sugar, so added a couple tablespoons to the mix. I always add sugar to homemade tomato sauce and it helps with the flavor. Then I let it simmer for 3-4 hours. I didn’t time it, but I figured the softer the vegetables the better.
Cooling, Blending, Straining, and Reheating The Soup
Once I had let the pot of vegetables cook a long while, I turned off the heat and began to cool the food. I used a pyrex measuring cup to scoop out the hot mix and put it into large bowls which I set on a wire cooling rack. Once the soup mixture was cool, I used the measuring cup to pour small amounts into my Oster Blender.
From there I poured the blended soup through my colander which has the perfect size holes! I had no idea how this would work out, but since I had removed the skins from the peppers and tomatoes, all that was left was the tomato seeds. And my yellow colander caught those! So use something with holes large enough for the sauce to easily pass through, but will catch the seeds.
I repeated the process of blending and straining the seeds until all the soup was back in the same dutch oven. I reheated it and then added some heavy cream (this lightens the color of the soup to more orange than red). I didn’t measure, just poured, but probably a half a cup or so. I’m considering using yogurt or Kite Hill non-dairy yogurt next time.
I’m pleased with the taste and I know exactly what is in my homemade soup. Because I am the only one who will eat it, I filled several small freezer containers which I labeled and froze. Grilled cheese and tomato soup for supper tonight! Can’t wait.
Making this soup was time consuming. Between chopping all the vegetables and doing the tomatoes then cooling, blending and reheating it took some time. But I love homemade soup and this is worth making again.
Use common sense when looking for “recipes” online. Some tomato soup recipes called for flour or canned tomato paste. Sometimes a few good recipes will give you ideas and when combined, you get a stunning result. I wanted fresh ingredients only, and I believe I have achieved that.
Butternut Squash Tomato Soup
When I visited New Hampshire last Fall, the Fiddleheads Café, in Hancock featured butternut squash tomato soup on their menu, which sounded so good! Unfortunately they were out of it the day I wanted some, so I decided that one day I would make my own. Since then I have been searching my local Florida area for good tomatoes to use. Most tomatoes here taste like nothing. Once you eat garden fresh tomatoes it really does spoil you. I gave up on making soup because of that.
Just the other day I discovered a fresh produce store just down the road from me. And the tomatoes are fresh and tasty! The owner also had little butternut squash, so I bought two. I love the size because I can’t eat a whole, large squash myself. Now I am thinking about adding some to my soup.
Update on the squash. I baked them both and wasn’t happy with the flavor. They tasted like they needed more time to grow! So maybe that is the case. I ate the squash and did not add it to my soup.
I’m thinking that I could cook some squash (a larger, more tasty one) and simply add it to my already made tomato soup. Why not?
I tried something new Thanksgiving Day 2016 and added loads of flavor to the meal. I used all the inside stuff from the turkey – the neck, kidneys, etc – not the liver, throw it away (that’s what recipes said).
Brown all that stuff in oil in a large pan for 5 minutes.
While it’s browning cut up a carrot, celery stick, and onion, into bigger chunks.
Crush garlic cloves. Pick parsley & basil from garden and rinse.
After 5 minutes add the veggies to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add chicken broth – 2 cups because it tends to be too salty. And 4 cups of water. Total 6 cups however you want.
Boil on medium for 45-60 minutes, uncovered.
Strain through a colander and dump out veggies. Use the broth for making stuffing and gravy. (We used 2 Publix packets of gravy, and Stove Top stuffing.) I had just enough stock to make both. It added great flavor.
I also made my own cranberry sauce since no one eats it but me. I’m not picky, and it was pretty good. I’ve never worked with whole, fresh cranberries before. I though they were only used to make garland for the Christmas tree!