Creamy roasted tomato soup

THIS IS NOT ONE OF MY GRANDMA’S RECIPES. At least, not that I can recall. Rather, this is something I just whipped up for lunch after having been inspired by a similar recipe posted on Pioneer Woman’s blog. I read it and thought to myself, Self? You have everything in the house right now to make this soup, and you have two ripe tomatoes, too. Why don’t you roast those maters and use that instead of tomato paste?

So that’s just what I did.

Just like in my last post for green turkey chili, this isn’t so much a recipe as it is a description of how I did it. Soup recipes are very forgiving – they practically beg for the cook to improvise.

FIRST: I sliced two ripe tomatoes in half and cut out the hard center. I didn’t totally scoop them out. I placed cut side up on foil on a cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and placed in a 275 degree oven for about 2 hours. It should have been longer, but my inspiration didn’t happen until mid-morning and I wanted this for lunch. I also would have used exclusively these, if I’d had enough tomatoes in the house. But this was a use-whatever’s-in-the-kitchen exercise. If I were making it with just these, I probably would have needed 7-10 tomatoes.

(A note on roasted tomatoes. If you haven’t done this before, you totally should. Roasting intensifies the flavor. And makes your kitchen smell great. Depending on how long you cook them, you can use them in pasta sauces, or as a substitute for tomato paste. You can make them ahead and store in your fridge, too. Check this feature on 12-hour tomatoes from the Washington Post and bookmark or Pin it for reference next summer when you’re all, what do I do with all these tomatoes??)

NEXT: I peeled and finely diced a carrot, diced half an onion, cut up four of those mini sweet bell peppers (yellow, red, and orange), and coarsely chopped 4-5 garlic cloves. I tossed that into a saucepan with maybe 1/4 cup olive oil (PW used OO + butter) and sauteed over med-low heat for maybe 10 minutes. Then I tossed in my four roasted tomato halves and stirred them around for a few minutes. Next, I opened a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes and tossed them in, along with 3/4 of a can of water and a heaping teaspoon of chicken bullion. (PW used vegetable stock, but I didn’t have any of that. Those desiring a vegetarian soup could easily sub vegetable stock here.) Lastly, I added a generous sprinkle of Italian seasoning blend, because it’s January and I don’t have fresh basil, but if I did, I totally would have added some sliced basil. Because, mmmmm basil. Oh, and a pinch of sea salt. You could add black pepper, or even a pinch of cayenne.

I turned up the heat to med-high, covered it, and let it boil for like 15-20 minutes. Then, I removed it from the heat and pureed it with my stick blender. (I love my stick blender. Do you have one? If not, you could also let the soup cool slightly, then puree it in your blender. Or, just get yourself one. You won’t regret it. I have this one, except mine isn’t two speeds.) I gently whirred it until it was smooth-ish – not as smooth as the canned tomato soup, but no actual chunks.

Lastly, I like my tomato soup creamy, so I stirred in some half and half. Cream would have been better, but like I said, this was an exercise in making lunch from what was already here. And OK, fine, I admit it – I also added a pat of butter. Because, mmmmm butter.

PW served hers with homemade parmesan crostini, which sounds great, except that I had neither the cheese nor the bread to make them. Croutons right outta the bag would have been good, or, you know – saltines. I had a cup and a half, then I scooped out another bowl, and there’s about enough left for one more small cup. So, it’s not a big recipe. But it was just what the doctor ordered on a chilly, rainy January Monday:

This soup runs circles around that congealed stuff from a can.
This soup runs circles around that congealed stuff from a red can.

 

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Seven Layer Salad

This is an extreme close-up of what we have come to call Seven Layer Salad. Actually, my version has more than seven layers, but that is how we originally came to know it. The detailed recipe is on my other blog,  Soup Is Not A Finger Food. Go check it out.

Judy McCormick’s Pepper Slaw

She’s not my grandma, but she is the grandmother of my kids, and that qualifies her to contribute a featured recipe to my blog.  Judy – the kids call her Bammy J – is my husband’s mother.  Her recipe for pepper slaw (or pepper cabbage) is perfect. The finished product reminds me of the version made by both my grandmothers. 

You really can’t make this without a food processor. If you’re looking for an excuse to dig waaay back into that cupboard – you know the one – and dust off your Cuisinart, this is surely the one.

This is a sweet-and-sour slaw, not a creamy slaw. The recipe makes a huge batch, but don’t worry – it “keeps” in the ‘fridge for days and days.

(Note: for an account of my experience actually making it one Saturday morning, click here.)

INGREDIENTS

1 small head of cabbage (as if there is any such thing – aren’t they all at least 3 pounds?)

1 small onion

1 carrot (or a handful of baby-cut carrots)

1 green bell pepper

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1.5 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon celery seed (not salt – SEED.)

1 teaspoon mustard seed (has to be seed!)

DIRECTIONS:

Make the dressing first: Place vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan and heat until boiling, stirring to make sure sugar dissolves. (Or, place in a microwave bowl and cook about 3 minutes, stirring every minute or two to dissolve the sugar.)  Set aside to cool.

Commence to choppin’: Cut the onion into chunks, toss into your food processor, and pulse several times until finely-chopped. Remove and place into a large bowl. Do the same thing with the green pepper, and then the carrot. (Or get crazy and do the carrot first, then the green pepper, then the onion. It doesn’t matter. Just so you do them separately.)

finely-chopped onion, green bell pepper and carrot
finely-chopped onion, green bell pepper and carrot

Remove the first few outer leaves of the cabbage so that the lighter-colored ones remain. Cut the cabbage into chunks and discard the hardest part at the base. Fill your food processor about half-full with the cabbage, then pulse maybe 6-8 times until it is very finely shredded. (This is not a stringy, sliced slaw, it’s an extremely finely chopped one.) Remove to the bowl, then repeat until all the cabbage is finely chopped. (Fish out any larger pieces and rechop or discard or just munch on ’em. They’re tasty.)

finely chopped cabbage.
finely chopped cabbage.

Mixing it up: Now that all your veggies are finely chopped and in the bowl, add the salt, mustard seed and celery seed.  Then pour the cooled dressing over top and stir and stir and stir some more until the veggies, spices and dressing are thoroughly mixed.  Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours to allow flavors to blend. Stir before serving.

It's Pepper Slaw!
It's Pepper Slaw!

MAKES: Enough to feed your entire neighborhood, a congregation of Methodists, all your relatives (even your funny uncle), a college football team and all the coaches, or a whole bunch of mourners.