August 29, 2012

Salt-Free Bloody Mary Soup

Let’s talk about backpacks for a moment.

Before there were backpacks there were bags. A newfangled way to tote your stuff around, whether in a nifty sack that one would tie on a stick or sling over their shoulder. There were purses and murses, brief cases and satchels. But no matter the name or design, the point was the same: bags were the coolest.

Then someone decided to do something different. Some dude or dudette looked at that bag and thought to give it a twist. And by twist, I mean straps. Two straps. That fit over both shoulders. Hanging ever so gently on one’s behind side. And thus, the backpack was born. True story.

So why the history lesson?

Well if bags can become backpacks, then bloody Mary’s can surely become soup. Meaning that all great inventions stand to be constantly reinvented. And that’s how we get to today’s awesome low-sodium recipe.

There’s nothing wrong with tomato soup. Really, I mean it. I love tomato soup. Don’t change.

But let’s say you’re looking to do something special. Something low-sodium. Something to really knock someone’s socks off. That’s when you think about bags becoming backpacks. And you come up with Bloody Mary Soup.

The trick to this recipe is all in the boiling and the horseradish. Which, when freshly ground with a microplane, is much easier on the eyes than the full court fume attack of blending it in a food processor. Trust me on this.

And as for the boiling, well, just forty minutes in a pot yielded loads of natural flavor from this gorgeous bundle of heirloom tomatoes. Red, yellow, and green zebras. Which I chopped and chopped. And chopped.

And then stewed and boiled until it created a rich broth of its own juices. Which I then blended and let thicken and reduce.

On top of that, there is of course the garlic, the lime, the black pepper, some vinegar, and fennel to lend the soup all those traditionally spicy Bloody Mary flavors.

And that’s how we get to our final soup.

Perfect chilled for a Sunday brunch or warmed up for a Wednesday night dinner.

And an easy way to give a classic dish a low-sodium twist worth sharing. True story.

Chow on.



  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds/antennae chopped (for garnish) and bulb washed and sliced
  • 4 large tomatoes (heirloom if in season and in budget)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 2-inch piece of fresh horseradish, peeled and grated (or 1 to 2 teaspoons no-salt-added prepared horseradish)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • Juice from 1/2 of lime
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Optional garnish: Handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half


Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot and when it is hot, add the garlic and the sliced fennel. Allow them to soften and brown a bit, about 6 to 8 minutes. Then add your chopped tomatoes, black peppercorns, and red chili pepper flakes and let them stew until it comes to a boil, about 10 minutes. Lower heat slightly so that the soup gently bubbles and continue cooking for another 20 minutes.

Take the pot off of the heat and using a stand-up blender or immersion blender, puree the mixture until all the bits and pieces have broken down into a smooth, creamy soup.

Pour the soup back into the pot if you’ve used a stand-up mixture, and place the pot back on the heat. Bring up the heat until there is a gentle boil. Add the horseradish, ground black pepper, lime zest, lime juice, and apple cider vinegar. Stir, taste, and adjust accordingly. Then continue cooking for a final 10 minutes.

When you’re ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with sliced cherry tomatoes and the raw, diced fennel fronds. Dig in and enjoy.

+ Sodium Count: Prepared horseradish: 20mg per 1 teaspoon depending on brand; Fennel: 45mg per cup, 122 per bulb; Tomatoes: 9mg per large tomato; Cherry tomatoes: 7mg per cup

LiztheChef August 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I love this and just threw out my plans to make my gazpacho – opting for this served chilled over the holiday…

Brook Monroe September 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm

So–if I’m reading this right, it’s a gazpacho variant? (With horseradish!)

Nick D. September 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Awesome recipe, and healthy as heck to boot! As a man who doesn’t mind a bit of the hair-of -the-dog, but loathes unperfected bloody marys, making it a soup is only innovative rather deductive. All those vegetables and horseradish must cook up a scent resembling that of rustic kitchen somewhere in Southern Italy. I’m definitely looking forward to making this dish in the near future. Possibly re-heating a bowl of it when I’m hungover.

Douglas October 9, 2012 at 10:47 am

This looks fantastic…I had to RT it

Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) October 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

I just discovered your blog and am so glad I did! I LOVE your approach to cooking, and your photos are stunning! Looking forward to exploring more of your culinary adventures.

JillS - Small Bites Big Changes July 4, 2013 at 4:46 pm

So you think this could be prepped in a slow cooker?

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