March 25, 2013

Tomato Soup, Minerva's Style

We felt a little under the weather a week or so ago. It wasn’t the cold and snot and sneezing we were all passing around, oh no. I think it was the utter disgust and depression that comes after 2, 60 degree days in March, which are then followed by hallowing 45 mph winds, and a weekend full of dreary gloom and 30 degrees. Again. Ugh, Winter, please go on your way. We’ve had enough for this year. We don’t need another week at 25 degrees. Mmm-kay?

Mabel had the sniffles and a cough first, then Trevor and Andrew both started to complain of a sore throat, and then my husband got all snotty and headachy. Even the cat was acting more lethargic than usual.

So that Saturday, I decided to take care of my family in one of my favorite ways: I cooked for them. I had all of the ingredients necessary for my tomato soup, plus an additional ingredient that is incredibly hard to come by: TIME. I took advantage of that, and made my soup the long way. I thought you might like to read all about it because EVERYONE – including Trevor who NEVER eats anyone’s tomato soup – commented that this was the best tomato soup ever. Lulu, it tasted like Minerva’s! I can’t wait to tell you what I did differently.

1 family size can of Campbell’s tomato soup (I use this specifically because of the sugar content)
1  16 oz. can of diced tomatoes, with the juice
½ of a sweet yellow onion, cut thin
¼ C flour
½ C parmesan cheese
4 tbsp olive oil (OR  ¼ C butter)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 C half & half
2 C milk
1 C water
8-10 fresh basil leaves that you chiffonade

Begin with a large soup pot. Add the olive oil and caramelize all of the onions. Add pepper, but not the salt (yet). Turn heat down to medium low and sprinkle in flour slowly, stirring the whole time. After it is combined and pasty, add the parmesan cheese and the half & half, a little at a time. Whisk continually as it thickens. Don’t stop or it will burn! Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer as the parmesan melts into the liquid. It will thicken quickly. Add your salt and one cup of milk before it binds, whisking again until smooth. After a few minutes, add the last of the milk, most of the basil, and the diced tomatoes. Turn the heat back up to medium and let the flavors marry together and make flavor babies. I let this sit and get delicious for 10-15 minutes. Finally add the can of tomato soup, half at a time, stirring and stirring to combine. I tasted and added more salt and pepper. Finally, I added the last cup of water and the rest of the basil to make the perfect consistency.

I served it alongside homemade bread, cut on the diagonal, which I made into crusty, gooey grilled cheese. Everyone’s eyes rolled back in their heads, I swear.

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