Monday, November 16, 2009

Two Soups

Lately I'm only interested in making soup. The act of eating soup is one of my favorites (I can tell you honestly that I like it more than pasta, though it may not seem that way) and the ones I am most attracted to are usually easy and quick. Though I'm an avid menu planner, some nights I'm just all out of ideas. I know I'm at my best when I devise a lovely soup out of my pantry rather than going for the ever-so-easy frozen pizza pitfall (we usually dress them up a bit with spices and whatever veg we have hanging around, but a $5 frozen cheese pizza is hard to beat at times).

I'm fond of topping soups with a salad of sorts which isn't always necessary, as was the case with this wonderful Roasted Tomato Soup from our lady Ina:

It required nothing. We had it with big crusty pieces of bread, but they weren't required. If I were going all out, I think it'd be great topped with shavings of parm or romano (or both), fresh arugula, and avocado, but it was wonderful all on its own...robust and hearty. I made sure not to puree it completely, leaving it nice and chunky.
  • 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil (I only used enough to lightly drizzle the maters)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (I used dried, like 2 tablespoons. I don't know what it is with me, but basil has just been turning me off lately)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (used 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 quart chicken stock or water (I used chicken stock)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

I have no idea why Ina calls for all of that olive oil. She tends to be a little on the crazy side when it comes to adding fat/expense to recipes. It always seems like she's cooking her last meal or something. Heck, I may order the deep fried Chicken Crispers at Chili's, but I don't act like that at home (disregard upcoming fried chicken post, please). I don't see the need.

Regardless, I made this soup a couple of weeks ago when tomatoes still seemed decent around these parts, but as it turned out, mine were kinda flavorless, even after the roasting. I maybe should have roasted them longer or added some sugar to them before roasting to accentuate their natural sweetness. I ended up adding about a tablespoon of sugar to the soup after I pureed it. Roma tomatoes usually look okay year-round, so I think you could make this at any time if you just added a little sweetness to them...honey, agave, sugar, whatever floats your boat.

The soup was incredibly rich and really good on the reheat (as is the case with most soups).

The next soup was recommended by my good friend, Amanda.
Tortellini Tomato Spinach Soup
from RecipeZaar

SERVES 4 -6 (change servings and units)
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1/2 cup minced onion (about 1/2 small onion)
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 4-6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
* 1 (14 ounce) can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped
* 1 (9 ounce) package fresh tortellini or dried tortellini
* kosher salt
* cracked black pepper
* 10 ounces fresh spinach or frozen spinach, defrosted and chopped
* 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)


1. In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.

2. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring often until onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Add broth and tomatoes, turn heat up to high, and bring to a boil.

4. Add the tortellini and cook according to package instructions.

5. When tortellini is almost done, add spinach and taste, adjusting seasonings with salt and pepper.

6. Serve immediately.

7. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

I used fresh spinach and veg broth. I also added in some roasted quartered button *mushrooms I had leftover from a salad earlier in the week. They added a nice meatiness.

I have to emphasize that you should be very careful to not add the tortellini in until you are ready to eat. I buy the frozen kind and it cooks in less than two minutes. If you let it sit in the broth too long, they get bloated and fall apart. If you aren't feeding a crowd and expect to have leftovers (the 2 of us ate on this at least 3 times each), I would recommend cooking the torts in a separate pot according to package instructions. Once al dente, drain them and reserve separately from the soup. To serve, spoon some torts (this also helps you to limit your fat intake as well, as you only get as few or as many torts as you'd like) in your bowl and ladle the soup on top.

*The mushrooms were tossed with olive oil and shoyu (could use soy sauce) and roasted for 40 minutes in a roasted a 375 degree oven (stir twice during duration).

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