Because the artic air has come to visit and because I had a specific request via the food blog, I am sharing the Creamy Tomato Soup recipe from the café.
Is there anything more wonderful for lunch on a cold windy day than a bowl of steaming hot tomato soup and an oozy crispy grilled cheese sandwich? When I made this soup each week at the café, I seldom had leftovers. This is the soup that was ordered for takeout more than any other, and it was the soup the vegetarians appreciated and the meat eaters never questioned. It just disappeared.
Recently, I had the pleasure of teaching a cooking “class” via Skype. I have a young singer friend wishing to embrace a lifestyle of cooking for himself and his friends. Becoming “that” person in his circle with the inviting kitchen and memorable meals is something he really craves. I would imagine living a lifestyle that keeps you on the road and performing in far-flung places will tend to make you want to cling to anything that feels stable and familiar. Attaining the title in his circle as “the food person” is simply a matter of self-discipline and determination. He happens to live in a large city with endless takeout and delivery options on speed dial, so it will take a mighty will to overcome instant gratification and choose instead pre-planning and patience.
As I pointed out to him, he pays his bills on time and shows up for work prepared and ready. He survived a national tour for nine months and never missed a step. He readily memorizes and delivers difficult music on deadline and is known as a reliable colleague. He has conquered the ADULT stuff that is really hard for most twenty-somethings. When I pointed out the hurdles of adulthood he has mastered, the self-discipline of cooking on his day off was suddenly a manageable task.
It is not change that is difficult; all the barriers of negative reasoning we create and drag across our path make change hard. I’ve written about this before, but really it is a matter of just deciding. Make the changes you wish in as timely a manner as your hectic life will allow. Where feeding yourself is concerned, some is better than none.
I have given my friend the challenge of cooking a big pot of rice and a big pot of soup or sauce or beans on his day off. At least that way he can walk in the door and quickly heat up a meal as opposed to dialing for delivery every evening. A few weeks of this kind of discipline and the next steps will get easier and easier.
I offer this soup recipe as your challenge. Make this over the weekend because I know you can find time. Go to the store and grab what you need. Spend fifteen minutes throwing it together and allow it to simmer for two hours. Portion it out into several ready-to-heat meals and watch how much easier your week feels and how much satisfaction you get from adding one more achievement to your self-discipline bucket list.
Oh, and for all you folks wanting that grilled pimiento cheese and bacon sandwich on the side….stay tuned.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion - chopped
- 2 stalks celery including the leaves - chopped
- 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2- 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes including juice
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp. dried dill
- 2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 quarts water
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- Heat a large soup pot over high heat and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the chopped onion and stir. Allow to soften and begin browning.
- Add the chopped celery and the salt and stir. Allow to continue to soften and brown, stirring occasionally to keep from burning and sticking. The salt will help pull moisture out of the onions and celery.
- Return the heat to high and add the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Stir to release the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add both cans of tomatoes and stir well. Allow this to cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, basil, thyme, dill, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Add all of the water and stir well until the pot comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Remove the lid occasionally to stir the soup, replace lid, and allow to simmer and reduce for two hours.
- Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Stir well and taste for salt.
- Divide cream cheese into 8 portions. Add to pot and use a blender stick to puree the soup and cream cheese into a fairly smooth texture. If using a blender, process the soup in small batches using two portions of cream cheese per batch until all the soup is blended to your liking.