Creamy Tomato Soup with Quinoa + Roasted Garlic Lemon Pesto


Every month I spend one morning helping with lunch prep and service in my daughter’s school cafeteria. Last month the tomato soup with rice and pesto baguette were especially comforting on a rainy day. Many of the children lined up for seconds. The next weekend I set out to recreate the meal at home, with my own healthy spin.

Creamy Tomato Soup with Quinoa

Serves 4-6

There are times when you can spend time chopping and simmering and developing beautiful flavors in a soup. And then there are times when you want to get a pantry ingredient meal on the table with minimal fuss and mess. I adapted this recipe from The Pretty Darn Quick Vegetarian Cookbook, changing many of the ingredients but keeping the same spice base. I used quinoa instead of rice because it:

  • has more fiber, stabilizing your blood sugar and helping you feel fuller longer.

  • offers more protein. Quinoa is one of the few complete plant based proteins.

  • has more energy producing riboflavin.

  • contains more folate which is particularly essential for women of child-bearing age because it helps with fetal development.

  • offers more iron.

  • provides more zinc which is important for a healthy immune system.


  • 1 cup quinoa

  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce (look for BPA free)

  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (look for BPA free)

  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth

  • 1 3/4 cup water

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (I’ve used homemade almond and coconut for extra creaminess)

  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions, making sure to rinse if it hasn’t been already.

  2. In a medium-large pot, combine the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, water, apple cider vinegar, onion powder, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer partially-covered for about 15 minutes.

  3. Use an immersion blender, or let cool a bit and carefully transfer to a blender, and blend until the soup reaches the desired consistency. I like mine really smooth.

  4. Transfer back to the pot if necessary and stir in the milk. Heat gently if necessary.

  5. Stir in sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

  6. Place cooked quinoa in individual bowls and ladle soup over the top.

Roasted Garlic Lemon Pesto

Roasted Garlic Lemon Pesto

Roasted Garlic Lemon Pesto

Makes about a cup

Traditional pesto is made with a mortar and pestle, basil, pine nuts, and cheese, but you can put together a fast, delicious pesto with a food processor, whatever nuts and greens you have on hand, and flavor with roasted garlic and lemon rather than cheese. The only hard part is remembering that you need to put the garlic in to roast about half an hour before you want to put together the rest of your meal. We enjoyed this pesto on top of some high quality sourdough toast to accompany our soup, but you could also serve it on top of zucchini noodles for a delicious entree. It also makes a nice dip for crackers or veggies. This recipe was inspired by Fed and Fit. Be sure to head over there to check out their garlic roasting technique.


  • 1 bulb garlic, roasted

  • 1/4 cup roasted pistachios, or try walnuts or pecans

  • 1 packed cup fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley, or try spinach or arugula

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat toaster oven (or regular oven) to 375 F. Carefully slice the top off of the garlic bulb. Remove the outer paper layers, leaving enough so the bulb stays together. Wrap in foil and place in oven with cut edges facing up. Roast for 30-45 minutes.

  2. You can let the garlic sit until cool enough to handle, or you can be impatient like me and squeeze the hot bulb into the small bowl of a food processor using an oven mitt. After the garlic roasts, the sweet, tender flesh magically squeezes out of the the paper.

  3. Add the roasted garlic, pistachios, herbs/greens, lemon juice, and half of the olive oil into the small bowl of the food processor. Process until everything is finely chopped.

  4. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the remainder of the olive oil into the mixture and process until creamy.

  5. Stir in sea salt and freshly ground lack pepper.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches were a childhood comfort classic and this was my way of adding a healthy spin to the meal. What is your favorite spin on old childhood favorites?