Food & Drink

Soup's up: Whether fresh or canned, tomatoes contain antioxidants, other nutrients

McClatchy Newspapers

Pop artist Andy Warhol was attracted to the image of a Campbell's tomato soup can as a way to celebrate the ordinary objects in our everyday lives.

As a student at Colorado State University, I used to pass a ginormous soup can of his on my way to class. Although I loved the kitschy lawn ornament parked in front of the art building, I've never been a fan of the real thing. Tomato soup from a can just seemed too basic, almost to the point of bland.

But these days I'm rethinking my position.

Regardless of the brand you choose, tomato soup appears to be good to the last drop. Tomatoes contain an abundance of phytonutrients, including the antioxidant lycopene. In the 1980s researchers began focusing on lycopene-rich foods as a way to dramatically reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Although recent studies have been less persuasive, tomatoes are a continued topic of research and an important part of the American diet.

While the nutritional content of most foods suffers from processing, tomatoes appear to be an exception to that rule.

Canned tomatoes -- including paste, juice and soup -- and even ketchup contain more concentrated amounts of lycopene than raw tomatoes.

The Star's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup features a combination of fresh tomatoes and tomato juice. Fresh tomatoes contain less sodium than canned varieties. Because most canned tomato soups are high in sodium, the recipe calls for reduced-sodium tomato juice, as well as reduced-sodium chicken broth.