Category: Soup

Spring Vegetable Egg Drop Soup

May 30, 2013

I lived almost my entire life in Seattle and I will tell you that winter is not the cruelest season. Winter can be terrible in most parts of the country but in the Northwest, I never had to worry that my kids would actually freeze if they forgot their coat at school. As long as you had the right gear, you could be outside all season. I was thankful for no biting wind, almost no snow, and none of the electric shock you get in colder climates when you take off your overcoat. (And you don’t really have to wear an overcoat.)  Winter was no walk in the park but it was much milder and much better than many other places.

Spring is when I would start to go nuts. Because most years, there isn’t really a spring in Seattle. The winter just drags on and on. You will get a week or so of nice weather and everyone and their mother/grandmother/uncle/dog will be outside and everyone will be oh so optimistic that winter is over only to have it return, with a vengeance. Some people say if you are going to live in Seattle, you have to plan to get away in February, but I would change that month to May. February is when you can take refuge in the fact that you aren’t shoveling snow out of your driveway, or wondering if your car is going to start, or hoping your pipes don’t freeze. May is when you can’t quite understand why people are talking about spring and grilling and eating outside.  It is also when you might be cursing the fact that it is light until almost 10pm but you can’t enjoy it because it is raining. May is when I would question my choice to live in that city. May is when I would long for spring but never really feel it.

To add insult to injury, the spring produce would take forever to come in. Seattle markets, when they are in their prime, are a thing of beauty and glory. Early spring is not that time. Early spring, spring at all really, is meager and frustrating. While seemingly the rest of the country is enjoying all the lovely springy green things, Seattle has just not quite caught up.

Because I shop at the farmers markets and because I cook seasonally, I am very in tune to seasonal transitions in produce. At no time are those transitions more remarkable than going from winter to spring. You essentially go from root-type vegetables that need to be roasted or stewed or braised to make them tasty, to gorgeous green things that only need a minute on the grill or in the oven or on the stovetop – or no cooking at all! – to make them tasty.  I found this soup on Epicurious when I was searching for a recipe for garlic scape pesto (it was actually in the May 2013 Bon Appétit).  It immediately brought back memories of my childhood because my mom used to make me egg drop soup all the time.  The one she made me was very kid friendly, i.e. no vegetables, and I loved it.  In this version, the vegetables are definitely the star of the show but the egg saves it from just being, you  know, a vegetable soup.  I served this as a main course and thought it needed a little something to make it more substantial, so I included a dollop of red quinoa.

One Year Ago:  Tartines with Gruyère and Greens
Two Years Ago:  Shaved Spring Vegetable Salad
Three Years Ago:  Rhubarb Bette
Four Years Ago:  Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps
Five Years Ago:  Roasted Potatoes and Onions with Wilted Greens (also the story of when I stopped eating meat)

Spring Egg-Drop Soup
Bon Appétit
Serves 4

The only changes I made to the recipe below is that I used less olive oil to sauté and served the quinoa on top.  I would say it serves 3 as a main course.  I spring garlic cloves instead of the garlic scapes only because I used all mine in the pesto.

¼ cup olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
6 small spring onions, bulbs only, coarsely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
3 medium spring garlic bulbs, 1-2 garlic scapes, or 2 regular garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ pound asparagus, sliced on a diagonal ½” thick
¼ pound sugar snap peas, sliced on a diagonal ¼” thick
2/3 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 2/3 pound pods)
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan plus more for serving
¼ cup torn fresh basil leaves
¼ cup torn fresh mint leaves
1 ½  teaspoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
Cooked red quinoa (optional)

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add carrots, spring onions, and garlic and season with salt. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 15-20 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, and peas and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat eggs in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon Parmesan, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon water.

Reduce heat to low and stir basil and mint into soup. Drizzle in egg mixture in 4 or 5 spots around pot. Let stand for 1 minute so egg can set, then gently stir in 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice. Season soup with salt and more lemon juice, if desired. Serve soup topped with more Parmesan and a dollop of quinoa, if desired.

Rethinking January

January 17, 2013

As an almost lifelong resident of Seattle, January was always my least favorite month.  I always felt a huge let down after the holidays and facing 31 days of rain and cold always put me in a bad mood.  The fact that the sun set around 4pm didn’t help and it certainly didn’t help that we couldn’t actually see the sun when it did set.  I always have had the perspective that it was so much worse in other parts of the country, places where you could actually freeze if you went outside, or you couldn’t go outside at all.  But usually those frosty places had this thing called spring that you could look forward to.  Thawing, sunshine, warmer temperatures.  Seattle often didn’t have that thing called spring.  Winter would just go on and on and it would get light later but it would still be cold and rainy.  Finally in July, or maybe August, summer would start.  So you can see why January could be particularly cruel.  With no guarantee of spring, 31 days can feel a lot longer.

Things have changed.  We live in Oakland now.  I don’t think it has rained once in January.  I wake up everyday to sunshine.  I’m not quite sure what to do with that.  I find myself worrying that something is wrong, why is the sun shining again??  It has been cool, crisp, and beautiful.  We are going to creep up into the mid-60’s this weekend and that, my friends, is practically like summer to this Seattle girl.  I haven’t been wearing my multiple pairs of boots and I’ve only worn my down jacket, the one I lived in from October to May last year, a handful of times.  It’s weird.  And wonderful.

Why all this talk about the weather?  Well, food is so connected to how you feel.  I’ve always listened to what I crave, beyond french fries and brownies, and tried to cook according to what sounds good.  Salads and light pastas are what I want in summer, green! green! green! in spring, roasted root vegetables and hearty soups sound best in winter.  What do you do when you no longer feel the need to roast everything?  When you don’t turn on your oven to bake but also to warm up your kitchen?  When soup sounds good but isn’t a full-on I-need-something-warm-in-my-belly-this-instant?

Well, you still make soup.  As a card-carrying member of the Soup Lovers Society, soup always sounds good to me.  I even like it in summer, either a cold one or a hot one served barely warm.  This lovely addition to my repertoire is the type that can be served year round.  It is hearty enough to serve as a main course with a delicious salad, and pretty enough to serve in small bowls as the start to an elegant dinner.  I love the smooth texture of perfectly blended soup but if it is going to be dinner, I need to chew.  Here we have a silky smooth spiced cauliflower base with bits of millet and bright green peas to keep it texturally interesting.  It has a wonderful creamy mouth feel without any cream.

Finally, I have become completely obsessed with these super spicy chiles that my friend Allison introduced me to.  Sicilian Pepperoncinis.  Eating dinner at her house, we sprinkled them over a delicious homemade lasagne and as we did so, she warned us, “Those are super spicy!”  Randy and I nodded our heads because we like super spicy and then WHOA! those are super spicy!  I had to have some!  So Allison, Denise, and I make a pilgrimage to Boulette’s Larder in the Ferry Building in the big city and ate really expensive soup (not as good as the one this post is about) and bought chiles.  Which I am grinding in a mortar and pestle and sprinkling on everything.  I think this soup tastes amazing with some spice but you can easily leave it off.

One Year Ago:  Pizza with Leeks, Smoked Mozzarella, and Eggs, Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies
Two Years Ago:  Gingerbread with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, Baked Tofu with Peppers and Olives
Three Years Ago:  Oatmeal Carmelitas, Chunky Vegetable Pot Pie
Four Years Ago:  Milk Chocolate Frosted Layer Cake

Curried Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Food and Wine
Serves 4

I have puréed this soup in a blender and also with an immersion blender.  The blender will give you that silky smooth texture but the millet breaks that up, so save on mess and use an immersion blender if you have one.  You might find that you don’t want to add all the millet to the soup pot. 

½ cup millet
1 cup water
Kosher or sea salt
Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
One 2-pound head of cauliflower, cut into florets
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
Crushed red pepper flakes, for sprinkling (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the millet with the water and a pinch of salt.   Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the millet is tender, about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Place a large saucepan, or a Dutch oven, over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the onions with a large pinch of salt.  Cook over moderate heat until softened and browning in places,  stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, tumeric, cayenne, and another pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the cauliflower and the stock.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to moderately low, and simmer the soup until the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 minutes.

Working in batches, carefully purée the soup in a food processor or a blender.  (Or use an immersion blender directly in the pot.)  Return the soup to the pot and add the cooked millet and the peas.  Rewarm gently over moderate heat.  Season with salt, if needed.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (if using) and serve.

(This soup, like most, is great the next day.  It gets pretty thick with the millet absorbing the liquid but I didn’t not mind that at all.  If you want a soupier consistency, just add some water or broth when you reheat it.)

So Good, I Made It Twice

December 13, 2012

Common sense would say that the second time you make something, it is better than the first.  Right?  The second time you know your way around the recipe, or the ingredients if you are creating it yourself, and the tinkering makes it better.  You are committed to that dish, having enjoyed it enough once to make it again, and it tastes even better.

Not always so.  At least in my kitchen.  I rarely make things twice because I have a deep need for variety in my diet.  Occasionally I make something I really like and find myself craving it soon after the leftovers are gone.  So I make it again and 89% of the time (scientific figure) I like it better the first time.  Is it because I tinker too much?  The old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” idea?  Who knows.  When that happens, I either don’t write about the dish, or I do with the first run haunting me as I type.

Recently I had one of those weeks where I didn’t want to cook from recipes.  I wanted to just have fresh or freshly cooked ingredients at my disposal and figure it out as I went along.  I am not really that kind of cook.  I am a recipe cook but the years of cooking experience and finding treasures at farmers’ markets have mellowed me, and cut my reliance on hard and fast recipes.  So I spent an afternoon stocking my refrigerator with things I like and decided to just figure it all out as the week progressed.  Dinner one night was bowls filled with sautéed kale, quinoa, topped with bits of roasted squash and a fried egg.  There were more bowls filled with rice noodles, baked tofu, and bok choy.  There was a Niçoise salad or two.  At the end of the week, I made a soup whose base was a bunch of leeks I had not used and a lonely potato that was sitting on my counter.  I added what I had leftover and like most soups that are born from ingredients that you like, it was terrific.  I even ate the leftovers for lunch a couple of days later.  Me.  The leftover hater.  The next week, I still had some quinoa, so I roasted more squash, sautéed more kale, and made the soup again, assuming that it wouldn’t be as good the second time.  But it was.  So I had to post about it.

Now, I’m not going to suppose that you have cooked quinoa, roasted squash, and already sautéed kale in your refrigerator.  I would imagine that you could probably make this soup without doing any up front work.  You could add the squash along with the leeks and potatoes, allowing it to get nice and soft.  You could pour in the quinoa after the broth is boiling and I assume it would cook all right.  You could add the kale near the end, cooking it enough that it gets tender but still stays nice and green.  You could do all that and it would be good soup.  But I don’t think it would be that good.

Here is why.  Quinoa cooked properly, not in too much liquid, retains a nice texture and crunch.  Roasted squash gets nice and caramelized making it much sweeter than just cooking it in liquid.  And kale.  Well.  I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this before here but I’m not a huge fan of kale.  I cook it and I eat it because sometimes there is a need for big dark leafy greens and I like it better than chard.  But you will not find a love letter to kale here.  And yes, I have made kale chips and no, not a single member of my family thought they were anywhere near as good as potato chips, and I may have actually just dumped them in the compost bin.  Ahem.  What I have learned about kale is that I need a bit of garlic cooked along with it and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes.  It needs to be cut in small pieces and it needs to cook long and slow until it is really tender.  It also needs to be Tuscan or lacinato kale, which is much more tender than its cousins.  So precooked kale, made just the way I like it, worked really well for me in this soup.

Can I call this a chowder?  Does chowder mean that there is cream involved?  Chowder means chunky to me so I’m going to call it that.  And as for the extra squash and kale that will be left after the soup is gone?  Use them in risotto, pasta, on top of pizza, stuffed in a sweet potato, or shoved into an omelet.

One Year Ago:  Posole Verde, Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two years Ago:  Brown Rice Bowl with Marinated Tofu, Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, Healthier Mac and Cheese
Three Years Ago:  Holly B’s Stollen, Spicy Tomato Jam, Sweet and Salty Cake (I’m making this next weekend)
Four Years Ago:  Breton Apple Pie, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Lemon Rice Rolls with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Potato and Quinoa Chowder with Winter Squash and Kale
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4

I used red quinoa here because I had some I like the color better than the regular stuff.  The regular stuff will work just fine here, your soup will just be a bit more monochromatic.  Delicata squash is my squash of choice because you don’t have to peel it and they tend to be smaller than butternuts.

Olive oil
3 leeks, white and pale green part only, cut in half, washed, then thinly sliced
1 large baking (russet) potato, cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
Leaves from 4 lemon thyme branches (or regular thyme)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cooked quinoa (recipe follows)
½ delicata squash, cut into 1-inch pieces (recipes follows)
½ bunch sautéed kale (recipe follows)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a large-ish soup pot over medium-low heat.  Drizzle in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot, then add the leeks along with a large pinch of salt.  Stir frequently until they start to soften, about 4 minutes.  Be careful with them as they can burn easily.  Add the potato and carrots and allow to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the lemon thyme, cook for another minute, then pour in the broth.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a lively simmer and cook until the potato and carrot are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the quinoa, squash, and kale to the soup pot and bring the heat up so the soup really simmers.  Allow to cook for 10 minutes so that the added ingredients warm up and the flavors of the soup really meld together.  (Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead.  It will thicken considerably, so add broth or water to it as you reheat it.)

To make quinoa:
Bring 1½ cups water to a boil.  Add quinoa, then lower heat to simmer and cover the pot.  Cook for 15 minutes, then remove lid.  (This will make a bit more than you need for the soup.  You might even want to increase the amount so you have some extra hanging around.  Just use 1½ the amount of water to the amount of quinoa.)

To make roasted squash:
Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Split squash down the middle and scrape out the seeds.  Slice each half into half moons about ½-inch thick and lay them out on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove and turn all the slices over.  Roast for another 7 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To make the sautéed kale:
Wash a large bunch of kale.  Strip the leaves off the stem, you can do this just using your hands or you can slice them off with a knife.  Chop the leaves into 2-inch pieces.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add two minced garlic cloves.  Immediately add a large pinch of red pepper flakes.  Just as the garlic is starting to turn light brown, add all the kale leaves.  It will look like a lot but, like all greens, it will cook down.  Stir frequently and add a bit of water if the kale is sticking.  Taste to make sure the kale is really soft, it can take up to half an hour for me to get it where I want it, then remove from the heat.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Black Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa

October 3, 2012

To say we have been eating a lot of Mexican food in our new city would be an understatement.  We ate a lot of Mexican food in Seattle but most of it was coming out of my kitchen.  All four of us love it and it is a very veg friendly cuisine.  We knew a move to Northern California would greatly improve our Mexican dining choices and we have not been disappointed.  Mostly we have stuck to kid friendly and quick places, not the fancier ones, but every place we’ve tried has been terrific.

This bounty has not stopped me from continuing to make Mexican food at home.  Actually, I’m not sure this soup can really be called Mexican food because it comes from a British cookbook.  But there are beans and there is a salsa you put on top.  Close enough, right?

There is a time and a place for canned beans which, in my kitchen, is much of the time.  This is not one of those times.  If you wake up on the morning you plan to make this soup and realized you forgot to soak the dried beans overnight, do not despair!  Dried beans benefit from a soak of any length, even if it is just a few hours.  I have never needed to cook any bean more than an hour maybealittlemore, despite what packaging and recipes will tell you.  I will say that buying good beans from a reputable place means that they will be fresher and will take less time to cook.   I will also say be sure to taste your beans to make sure they are cooked through because no one likes a chalky bean.  I will also say (it’s public service announcement day – did you know?) that “don’t salt your beans until they are cooked through otherwise they turn out tough” is an old wives’ tale.  Like most things, beans need salt.

Oh, but how about that soup?  Warm, nourishing, a bit spicy, super good for you.  That is all well and good.  The salsa and garnishes make it into a meal so make sure you have something to put on top.  If you don’t want to take the extra step to make the salsa, just serve it with store-bought salsa, chopped avocados, and plenty of lime and cilantro.  Cheese is nice too.

One Year Ago:  Mexican Chocolate Cake, Pizza with Corn, Chantarelles, and Cilantro
Two Years Ago:  Braised Purple Cabbage with Apples, Pecan Molasses Bundt Cake with Bourbon Glaze
Three Years Ago:  Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon, Buckwheat Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms, Holly B’s Peanut Butter Brownies
Four Years Ago:  Dimply Plum Cake

Black Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Plenty (not Ottolenghi’s book)
Serves 4-6

The cilantro stems is not a misprint.  Cilantro stems have a lot of flavor and are sturdy enough to stand up to a long cook.  You will be blending the soup, so they will disappear.  Save the leaves and use them to garnish the soup.

1½ cups dried black beans
Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
Stems from ½ a bunch of cilantro
1 small red or green chile, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock (you can use water)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lime, plus additional slices for serving

Cover the beans with cold water and leave to soak overnight (or for as long as you can).  Drain and rinse.

Place a soup pot over medium heat.  Pour in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot, then add the onion, carrot, celery, cilantro stems, and chile.  Also sprinkle in a pinch of salt.  Sauté until the onions browns a bit and the other vegetables are softening, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the cumin, and the garlic and cook for another two minutes.  Stir in the beans, then pour in the stock or water.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about an hour, or until the beans are tender.  Taste one to make sure.  Add lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully purée the soup either using an immersion blender or a regular one.  You can also use a food processor.  The soup should still have a lot of texture but make sure the cilantro stems are puréed.  Serve garnished with the avocado salsa, crumbles of cheese (Cotija is nice), cilantro leaves, and limes slices on the side.  Sour cream too, if you roll that way.

Avocado Salsa

1 garlic clove
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 ounces fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 avocados, diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 scallions, sliced
1 fresh chile, minced
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
Tabasco to taste

Place the garlic clove on a cutting board and chop it coarsely.  Sprinkle with the kosher salt.  Using the flat side of a knife, grind the salt into the garlic, using back and forth motions, until you have a paste.  Scrape this paste off the board and put in a bowl.  Add the rest of the salsa ingredients and stir to combine.  Allow to sit for at least half an hour so the flavors can meld.


Too Much of a Good Thing?

September 26, 2012

There is no such thing as too much as a good thing.  Would you agree?  Disagree?  In general, I would disagree except when it comes to food that is perishable.  Then it is possible to have too much of a good, even wonderful, thing.  Like roasted tomatoes.

I made this dish, one of my favorites of last year, and decided that this time, unlike last time, that I would slow roast enough tomatoes to have plenty left over for other things.  So I cored a little over six pounds of tomatoes, I put them in the oven for close to four hours, turned them periodically, burned my fingers while pinching off their skin – you know.  All worth it.  At the end of it, we enjoyed our chickpeas (the tomatoes really do make the dish), I carefully scooped the remaining tomatoes into a container and covered it with olive oil.  I put the garlic cloves in a separate container and was proud of myself for having two such delicious things in my refrigerator just waiting for inspiration.

Except.  Six pounds makes a lot of leftover tomatoes.  And of our family of four, only two of us, the grown people, will eat tomatoes.  So a couple of days after feeling proud, I started to feel a little silly.  Then I started to feel wasteful.  I can’t have spent all that time on these things only to have them get grody in my refrigerator.  So I made soup.

We’ve all had tomato soup, right?  It is one of cooking’s greatest triumphs.  If you have made this one, you know that Cambell’s is not your best choice.  I love that Tomato Leek Soup dearly (with grilled cheese made on homemade challah, it’s Randy’s favorite meal), but it is just a touch acidic for me.  I envision something rounder, mellower, softer when I think of tomato soup.  A bit more like, um, Campbell’s.  Except 100 million times better.  Slow roasting tomatoes makes them very sweet and mellow and the garlic is super mellow too, which is why you will see so  many cloves in the recipe.  I only added a bit of body to it with onion and celery, a bit of tomato paste and a touch of cream to round it out further.  I was thinking of adding basil but found I didn’t have any and truthfully, it doesn’t need it.  What it does need is homemade croutons.  Just take any crusty bread, cut it into cubes, drizzle them with olive oil, a pinch of good salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  Bake them in the oven at 350ºF for about ten minutes until they are lightly browned.

One Year Ago:  Chocolate Dipped Ice Cream Sandwiches, Corn with Tons of Herbs, Heirloom Tomato Tart, Maple Soy Snack Mix
Two Years Ago:  Tomato, Semolina, and Cilantro Soup, Double Chocolate Layer Cake, Moo Shu Tempeh
Three Years Ago:  Corn and Zucchini Timbale, Nutella Pound Cake, Holly B’s Almond Butterhorns
Four Years Ago:  Pissaladière

Roasted Tomato and Roasted Garlic Soup
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4

If you don’t feel like taking four hours (give or take) to slow roast tomatoes, you can get good results in two hours.  They won’t be as dry and they won’t be as sweet, but they will still be good.  Either way, once the tomatoes are done and cool, I transfer them to a container, where I lay down a layer, cover in olive oil, lay down another layer, etc.  Covered they will last about a week.  The oil will solidify so take them out a good half an hour before you want to use them in this soup or otherwise.  I allowed mine a brief rest on paper towels to soak up excess oil.  I store the garlic, still in its papery wrapper, separately from the tomatoes and I do not cover them in oil.

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
Kosher or sea salt
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
About 2 cups roasted tomatoes (you can use this recipe)
8 roasted garlic cloves (ditto)
½ dry white wine
4 cups water
¼ cup heavy cream
Croutons (for serving)

Place a soup pot over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the onion and the celery along with a large pinch of salt.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft and starting to color, about 10 minutes.  Add the thyme leaves and stir for another minute.  Add the canned tomatoes and the tomato paste and give the mixture a good stir.

Add the roasted tomatoes and garlic and allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then pour in the wine, followed by the water.  Add another pinch of salt.  Bring the soup to a boil, then lower to a simmer and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.  If it is looking too thick, stir in a bit more water.

Using a handheld blender, blend the soup.  You want it fairly smooth but texture is important here.  If you do not have a handheld blender (also called an immersion blender) you can very carefully (HOT!) blend it in either a food processor or blender.  Remember to not make it too smooth.  With the heat on low, pour in the cream.  Give it a good stir and allow to cook on low for another five minutes.  Taste for salt.  Add more cream if you want it mellower.  Serve with croutons.

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