Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Tomato Soup That Started It All

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to make some soup.  As I was looking through my collection of recipes, I thought to myself, "I wish I could do this all the time."  You see, I love to cook.  And for the most part, I'm pretty good at it.  Or at least I never have a problem collecting my friends at the last minute asking for mouths to feed (especially my friend Bill, who never misses an invite). When folks ask me what my hobby is, I feel like I should respond with:  mountainbiking.  Or ice climbing.  Or skiing, at least.  But what I always tell them is that:  I love to cook.  I also love to eat good food.  So deciding to have a career as a lawyer makes sense, right?  I'm lucky to have found a fulfilling career as a union lawyer, but I realized that I needed an outlet for all the cooking I like to do.  So here I am:  a technologically-impared lawyer writing my own little food blog.  And the recipe that started it all was a delicious soup that is the perfect accompanyment to your classic grilled cheese sandwich:  Creamy Tomato Soup.  This recipe is a combination of two different ones I found online (which is something I typically do- mash together a couple different recipes to find one I like even better).

First things first, chop up one onion.

(Ok, I just started this thing.  I promise my pictures will get better.  Baby steps.)  Next, mince up 4 cloves of garlic.

Dice up one red bell pepper (I forgot to take a picture, but I figure you can manage).  Throw the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in a pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a medium or large pot.  Add a good pinch of salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper.  Saute 4-5 minute, or until the onion is starting to look translucent.

A nice, deep pot like this Le Creuset (thanks Mom & Dad!) is the perfect pot for soup.

Now here comes the weird step- dollop 8 ounces of cream cheese (I used light, but full fat is fine) into the pot.  This makes the soup so good and creamy!

Stir the cream cheese around until it gets melty and ooey-gooey.  (Sorry, I'm a lawyer, not a professional chef.  So I don't know all the techincal words for these things.  I'll try harder, promise.)

Add to that a cup of milk, 3 cups of low-sodium tomato juice, a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (I used a box of Pomi tomatoes- which are imported from Italy and you can find them in the regular section of the grocery store.  You pay a bit of a premium, but I think they have the best flavor.  I also love San Marzano tomatoes.  But any diced tomato will do.)  Finally, add the 2 teaspoons of sugar, which helps to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, and brings out their sweetness.  After a stir, it should look something like this.  I taste it at this point and add salt and pepper if it needs it.

Finally, roll up several leaves of fresh basil, and chop 'em up.  Fresh basil is best, but 1 tablespoon of dried basil will work too.

Toss the basil into the soup and stir!  Simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently.

Finally, use an immersion/stick blender to blend up the soup.  I don't like to overdo it- a few chunks of tomato and onion add a nice touch to me.  If you don't have an immersion blender, blend it in batches in your regular blender, but be careful because it's hot!  Here's what it should look like:

This soup is so delicious and easy!  It is a faithful standby when you're in a pinch, and I think you'll come back to it over and over again. 

I actually forgot to take a picture before I took my first bite of the grilled cheese.  What can I say?  It was dinner and I was hungry. 

Creamy Tomato Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, choppped
2 T. olive oil
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. milk
28 oz. can (or box) diced tomatoes
3 c. low-sodium tomato juice
handful of fresh basil, or 1 T. dried
2 t. sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

(1) Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion, red bell pepper, and garlic, plus a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the onion starts to look translucent.

(2) Add the cream cheese and stir till melty.  Add the milk and cook until simmering, a minute or two.

(3) Add the tomatoes and their liquid, tomato juice, basil, and sugar.  Simmer the mixture for 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently.

(4) Blend the soup with an immersion or stick blender until smooth but still a little chunky.

This makes a BIG batch of soup- roughly 8 cups.  Too much for this single gal.  But as any of my friends will tell you, I have an inability to make any food in small quantities.  Luckily, I found that despite the fact it has milk in it, the soup actually froze pretty well.  When I reheated it, I had to add an extra dash of sugar because it tasted a bit acidic.  Mass quantity problem solved. 

Enjoy!  xo H


Unknown said...

It looks yummy. I like the idea of adding cream cheese.

redhotmama said...

Gonna have to try this one! Looks good :)

Marika said...

Congrats on the blog, Heidi! I was already amazed by your cooking and now I am amazed that you are doing this whole blog thing. Go Heidi! But, this doesn't get you out of actually cooking for me...

Rebecca said...

Made this last night, and it was delicious! Stuck almost exactly to the recipe (rare!), except Carrs didn't have low sodium tomato juice, so I used the regular kind and just didn't add any salt to the recipe. Also used dried basil (from Michal's mom's garden, at least) b/c I was feeling too cheap to buy fresh. The three of us nearly finished it off, so no freezing necessary. Yum!

knottynatty said...

Thank you for such a cool blogspot. I am going to try your tomato soup but tweak it using roasted red pepper and mexican crema in lieu of bell pepper and cream cheese respectively.

You are so talented! I love your raspberry jam! Thank you for sharing :)