Friday, November 18, 2011

Simple Tomato Soup

Have you ever had one of those meals that just makes you say, "Wow!"? I don't get them that often. Now, don't get me wrong, I love everything I cook/bake/prepare/whatever (and wouldn't share them if I didn't), but some things are just plain better than others. Some are, in fact, awesome. The tomato soup I made this evening happens to be one of those awesome things.

The weather outside has gotten quite chilly which means it's soup season over here. I love soup. My husband loves soup. My son loves soup. It's one of the best comfort meals of all time and most of them are so easy to make that it just becomes routine in the winter. I don't really buy canned soup very often because of that very reason. There are so many kinds and variations and versions of every kind of soup out there, but as you know, I'm a fan of simple. Simple is usually the best way to prepare almost everything to get the best flavor and the best results. This tomato soup is no exception. There aren't very many ingredients and it has a really quick prep. Just add a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand and forget about it for an hour. A quick blender visit later and you're enjoying some tasty soup that, by accident, tastes almost like Panera's Tomato Soup. I'm pretty sure mine is the healthier choice though...

This dish is a key part of one of the best meals of all time: Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup. So get the soup in the pot, cook it, give it a puree, then make yourself a classic grilled cheese sandwich to go with it. Sprinkle a couple croutons or some Parmesan cheese in your bowl if you'd like, or do what I do and just dunk the sandwich right in the soup. You won't be disappointed.

Tomato Soup

1 stalk celery
1/2 small onion
2 sm carrots
2 TB olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced

2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt, depending on taste
1/4 pepper

1. Chop celery, carrot and onion. Keep them about the same size so they cook evenly. 
2. In heavy bottomed stock pot, cook celery, carrot and onion in oil and salt over medium-low heat until soft, about 7 - 10 minutes, stirring often. Make sure they don't brown. (Salt helps them soften faster.)
3. Add garlic and cook for about 2-3 more minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients, except pepper, and bring to a boil.
5. Cover, reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until carrots are tender, stirring occasionally.
6. When done, turn off heat and allow to sit for a few minutes.
7. Puree the soup with a food processor, blender, or immersion blender until smooth. (I left mine with a little texture as a personal preference.)
8. Mix in pepper and serve.

Makes about 4 cups.

Some people like to add a little half and half for a creamier and richer soup. I'm not a fan of the heaviness that brings so if you want a little creaminess without the added heaviness, you could add a little 2% milk. It gives almost the same flavor and consistency but isn't nearly as rich.

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