Friday, January 11, 2008

TOMATO, TOMAHTO!!

Is there anything more basic or comforting as a bowl of tomato soup and a gooey, grilled cheese sandwich? I like my grilled cheese with american cheese, mayo and olives and though plain white bread will do, sourdough or french really raises this up a notch. There are certain tastes that we all remember from growing up. As we've gotten older and our palates have gotten more sophisticated, we may realize that some of those old favorites are not exactly what you might think of as fine dining, but boy, there are some tastes that you just can't get anywhere else and just tasting it again can make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Campbell's Classic Tomato Soup in the familiar red and white can is one of those favorites. When you think of tomato soup, I'll bet 9 times out of 10, Campbell's comes to mind. It has gotten more expensive these days, but I know it had to be a bargain to end up in our cupboard when I was growing up. I still crave it and other cheap , pre-packaged delicacies come to mind. The old frozen Chicken Ala King and Gravy with Sliced beef in the pouch, the boxed Chef Boy AR Dee spaghetti, and a personal favorite of mine, Banquet Turkey Pot Pie. Dill pickle chips with mustard on saltines took care of my salt fix. I still sneak that snack sometimes. It's a good alternative to the bag of potato chip "dust" left by someone in the cabinet. There must be something in those preservatives that gives these foods their staying power (pardon the pun) but I really do go back to these golden oldies when I want that particular "Taste." I have some great grown up versions of each of the aforementioned treats, but the originals will always be a mainstay in my diet.
This is a really good recipe for Tomato Soup if you wanna take a little time to make it home made. Fresh is always best, but this particular recipe is very canned tomato friendly. It's good in the summer time when the tomatoes are plentiful and delicious at room temperature. You can spiffy it up with a bit of cream at the end if you like, but it's good just as is. I've included freezing instructions at the end.
Try this, but keep your Campbell's in the pantry for those winter nights when you're too tired to cook but need a little Comfort and Joy from the good old days. comfortcook@gmail.com


CLASSIC TOMATO SOUP

4 TBS (1/4 stick) butter
2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 TBS tomato Paste
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
2 cans (14.5 oz each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cans (28 oz each) whole peeled tomatoes in juice (with basil if available)

1. In a 5 quart saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat: add oil and onion, season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and tomato paste, cook 1 minute to cook starch taste from flour.
2. To saucepan, add thyme, broth and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with your fingers. Bring to a boil: reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.(Remove thyme leaves before blending)
3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup in pot leaving a fair amount of tomatoes in chunks. Or, working in batches, puree half (5 cups) of the soup in a conventional blender till smooth, being careful with hot liquid and covering top off blender with a towel and holding tightly.
Return to pot with remaining tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature before dividing among airtight containers (leaving 1 inch space at the top) and freezing.

Comfort Cook Catering (615) 525-8336

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