Hummus and I go way back. Back to the early ’90s, in fact. It’s a long story, but my daughter Allison – yes, the same Allison who is my FoodLove blogging partner – could not swallow solid food for the first couple of years of her life. Everything she ate had to be pureed, mashed, or chopped into tiny pieces. I was in graduate school in Chicago at the time, and Allison had a nanny – a lovely, tall, rail-thin young woman from Israel named Iris. Iris was sympathetic about Allie’s eating problems, and one day she told me, “I’m going to teach you how to make the most wonderful food, that my mom makes at home in Israel.” That’s when I learned how to make hummus.
Iris didn’t seem too impressed by my hummus-making efforts, and I’m sure my early attempts at hummus didn’t compare with her mother’s. But I thought it was a miracle. Here was a food that was nutritious, easy to make, inexpensive and delicious, that my daughter could eat. Bonus – my husband and I loved it, too! So I like to brag that I knew hummus before hummus was cool – in the United States, at least. Now you can buy hummus at every grocery store or 7-11, or by the half gallon at Costco, but it’s a lot cheaper to make it for yourself. I like to try different varieties of hummus, but my favorite is the traditional Middle Eastern style, flavored with lemon, garlic, cumin, parsley and olive oil.
There’s nothing I love more than a dinner that practically makes itself. Except perhaps a dinner that practically makes itself that’s also cheap, healthy, low-calorie, crowd-pleasing, and most importantly, delicious. This Crock-Pot Tomato Soup recipe is a staple in my kitchen during the colder months. The family gets to sit down together over a warm meal, even when I just walked in the door.
This soup is also great for entertaining family or friends who are vegetarian, vegan, or have food allergies. On it’s own its totally vegan and each guest can add toppings to their liking and sensitivity.
You’ll notice that this recipe calls for canned tomatoes instead of fresh, which makes it a perfect addition to your fall and winter dinner rotation. While I cherish the delicious, ripe tomatoes my back yard garden produces each year, canned tomatoes are a great option for when tomatoes are not in season and actually have some interesting health benefits.
I love that the prep time for this recipe is minimal. In the morning I quickly sauté the veggies, throw everything in the Crock-Pot and leave for the day. When I get home, I blend for a few minutes, and dinner’s ready. I like to serve this soup with a variety of soup toppings, a quick green salad and grilled cheese sandwiches on our Panini press. Each family member gets to choose their own soup and sandwich toppings, so it pleases kids and adults alike.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion – coarsely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper – coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- Chopped fresh basil, for garnish
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium-high. Cook and stir garlic, onions, and bell peppers until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Combine sauteed vegetables, tomatoes, vegetable broth, salt, and red pepper flakes in Crock-Pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Serve immediately with fresh basil as a garnish.
- Top with Parmesan cheese, croutons, yogurt, or grilled cheese croutons as desired.