Tag Archives: cheese

Easy Home-Style Tomato Basil Soup

I practice fasting often, not just during the Lenten season. Recently I took up a liquids-only fast, overlooking our exceptionally scanty pantry. Determined to stay on course, I examined the ingredients on a can of tomato soup. Shoving the idea of a toasted cheese sandwich deep down, I quickly noticed the villainous high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient listed. I put the can back on the shelf and drifted to the refrigerator.

I considered the marvelous turkey vegetable soup I’d made from frozen turkey stock. Chunky with fresh veggies, it was not exactly liquid, so I returned to the pantry. On a different can of tomato soup, I noticed the first ingredient: “Tomato puree (tomato paste and water).” I fast-forwarded from there.

Grabbing a small can of tomato paste and I was off and running with sudden inspiration for a healthier alternative. The result is so fantastic I made it again the next two days. I would have prepared the soup even if I had received the revelation I’d sought ;).

The soup can be dressed up with cheese; I like a finely grated Italian blend of Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina and Asiago (available even at Walmart) and cheddar is also delicious. Also good to add are sweet corn, tuna or any white, flaked fish, a cup of milk, cream, or yogurt (and crumbled bacon is fabulous when one is not fasting from meat). Plain soup makes a delicious stand alone light meal (with croutons, toast or a sandwich) anytime – but the soup is especially good during a liquid fast!

Easy Home-Style Tomato Basil Soup
Makes 3 – 4 servings, 3 servings approximately 158 calories. 4 servings approx. 210 calories

Ingredients:

1  6 ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, rubbed
salt to taste
a few twists of fresh ground pepper blend
6 ounces sweet, red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinon Noir or Moscato are also good)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cups warm vegetable stock (bullion is acceptable, but don’t add extra salt)

Extra: finely grated cheese

Directions:

In a medium saucepan slowly brown tomato paste, basil, salt (if your not using bullion) and pepper, over medium heat. Stir constantly being careful not to scorch – you can’t over-brown the tomato paste and the darker, the better. As the paste thickens, gradually and slowly blend in wine in small increments. Continue browning paste and wine. Once the last of the wine is added also add the sugar.

Once all wine is stirred in, sugar dissolves and paste thickens again, slowly and gradually whisk in 3 cups vegetable stock.

Bring soup to a gentle boil and then remove from heat. Spoon into bowls, top with grated cheese and serve. Delicious!

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Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread

In our house we’re usually running on empty and not terribly picky when we finally get to the kitchen. Also not real big on cooking by then, quick and easy is typically the order of the day.

Then there are the times, usually when I’m working the kinks out of a project, I will start preparing one thing, and several rabbit trails later, wind up with at least one something else – often a few new concoctions. Making due with what was in the ‘fridge and the pantry, Opal and I developed the Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread.

This is great to have ready, especially during the festive year-end season. Slightly tedious with the mincing (in my humble opinion machines make mushy stuff – I’m not a fan of mushy), this is one of those great foods you wish you’d thought of an hour before you can almost taste it. It’s worth waiting for when you didn’t think ahead.

Rich and nutritious when spread on celery, peeled sliced jicama, whole grain crackers or baked pita chips, it’s remarkably satisfying, so a little goes a long way. It’s also good in fingertip sandwiches, on mini-rye as appetizer, topped with salmon, shrimp, maybe a sprig of fresh dill, chive or watercress – you get the idea? I think it’s also great in won ton wrappers, steamed, baked or fried too. But then, what isn’t?

appetizers olive spread salmonI typically make a double batch (especially when I have a lot of nervous energy or I must resist stabbing something). It disappears fast during tumultuous stretches, but during calmer times it’s kept well for as long as three days – so far ;). Really, it’s never gotten old at our house. I don’t have photos yet – it’s never around long enough, but I’m inserting some stock shots for now to help inspire you.

breads-on-dish-miyeonLike most everything else in our kitchen, the ingredients are items that are typically on hand. Except for the capers we found on clearance – and weren’t stale dated! Now we’ve developed a craving for them. Leave a comment if you do too!

 

Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread

8 oz softened cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
2 tablespoons capers, smashed and minced
1 finely minced sweet cherry pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced sun dried tomato
6 oz (dry weight) pitted, minced black olives, (dried olives are great also)
1/2 teaspoon caper brine
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sweet cherry pepper brine
1/4 teaspoon lime juice
red pepper flakes to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon, but I like piquant)

First mince the olives, capers, cherry pepper and sun dried tomato. Set aside. In a bowl, blend softened cream cheese (about 20 seconds in the microwave at half power will do in cool months) with the liquids. Once smooth, add all remaining ingredients, mixing well with rubber spatula. Allow to sit. Best made a day ahead – but good luck with that! Don’t be afraid to play with the liquid ingredients – in a separate small dish, a little at a time :). To make a great dip for chips, thin with a splash of milk.

 

 

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