Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Getting Hot in Here!

First, yes, the Annual Pumpkin Carving Party was yesterday. Yes, it was fun. Yes, there are photos and I'll share them later this week so you THINK I cooked when I really picked up take out Chinese or went to grab Mexican food. ;D I'm devious that way.

It's October 25th. Remember just a few days ago when I praised Fall for it wonderousness? I take it all back. Fall is taunting me. I want those crisp, beautiful, cool fall days, but what do I get? I get a 90 degree Monday on October 25th. Most people find themselves drawn to cool things to eat on hot days. But you all know me better than that, right? So what do you think I made today?

Yep. Soup.

Now, I have had a life long love affair with Tomato Soup. It's my favorite soup. It's my soup soulmate. I luuuuurrrrvvvveee it. As a kid I ate the Campbells Tomato Soup and it was fine. As an adult who loves to cook, I love to make different types of Tomato Soup. I've made lots of different recipes over the years. Tonight, I wanted to wing it. No recipe, just me, my taste buds and whatever ingredients I had to make do with. Welcome to Real World Cooking 101.

Now, you can't have Tomato Soup without Grilled Cheese. It's like salt without pepper, mac without cheese, the weeone without headbands - it's just not right. And luckily I had half a baquette and some sliced sharp cheddar on hand!

Game. On.

So, here's how it went down in my kitchen tonight. I started with a full 32 oz container of chicken stock because, well, I think all soup recipes should start with a full 32 oz container of stock. It just makes the calculations so much easier. ;D Pour that into a soup pot that is at least 4 qts. Put the pot over medium heat.

To the stock I added 2 15oz cans of organic diced tomatoes. I didn't have any fresh or canned crushed, but you could use either. Although if you use fresh you'll cook them a bit longer.

I let the tomato and stock mixture heat until it just bubbled. Once it did, I added 1 cup of fat free half and half. You could use heavy cream here if you'd like, but I find that subbing the half and half is a nice way to cut the fat out but still get some creaminess.

At this point I added some Italian seasoning and salt and pepper, just a few shakes of one and a few grinds of the other. Let the soup come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer it for at least 15 minutes. The next part is my favorite. I like gadgets. I do and I can't help it and I won't apologize for it. So it stands to reason that the part of making Tomato Soup where I get to wield my immersion blender would be fun. Power tools for the kitchen. So, yes, if you have an immersion blender then process the soup until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender you can put the soup, in small batches (small is key here!) into a regular blender to process - be aware that hot soup in the blender can grow and force blender lids to go flying across the kitchen followed closely by the soup itself....not that I would know from personal experience or anything!

Now, you've got your soup! Next, the grilled cheese sandwiches. I fyou slice the baguette on an angle you get a prettier sandwich, but really, just slice it to the thickness you'd like.

Heat up a skillet or if you have a double burner griddle pan like mine - it's great for this sort of thing. It's also great for pancakes, in case you're trying to figure out why you should go buy one. ;D I know, I'm helpful.

Then butter one side of each slice of bread, put some cheese inside and....grill! Don't forget to flip before they get too dark unless of course someone in your family likes the slightly burned grilled cheese! We used to pawn the burnt ones off on my brother when we were kids.

So you put those two items together and you have dinner.

So, when it finally gets cold in Houston, how much do you want to bet I make ice cream....or popsicles....

Tomato Soup
Makes 4 2 cup servings

32 oz chicken stock
2 15 oz cans organic diced tomatoes
1 cup fat free half and half
Italian Seasoning to taste
Salt & Pepper

In a 4 qt pot heat chicken stock and tomatoes until they just bubble. Add half and half, stir in and heat to a boil. Add all seasonings. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Process with an immersion blender until smooth. Makes 4 2 cup servings.

Calories: 110, Fat: 0, Chol:12.5mg, Sodium: 930mg, Carb: 22.5g, Fiber: 3.5g, Sugar 15.5g, Protein: 7.25g

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