Monday, November 30, 2009

Basic Tomato Soup: Like Sands Through the Hourglass

Today on Serious Eats: Meringue Cookies, fat-free sweets for under a buck per batch. Mama likes.

When I was little, there were two kinds of sick days. The first involved contracting some hideous childhood disease, toughing out the equally traumatic remedy, and missing seminal chunks of my education. (See: third grade chicken pox, oatmeal baths, and long division. I only learned what a remainder was yesterday.)

But then there were the other kind of sick days. The good ones. The ones when you’d puke once, and then never again. The ones when your parents couldn’t send you to school in good conscience, even though you felt fine thereafter. Those kind of sick days ruled.

I remember Lin would pick up assignments from my teachers. Ma would stay home from work. We’d park it on the bird sofa and peruse The Price is Right, hoping someone named Kris would win a car (because in my eight-year-old head, that meant I won one, too). And if I was still a little green around the gills by early afternoon, Ma would make soup and let me watch Days of Our Lives.

While I didn’t comprehend amnesia and thought “having an affair” meant “throwing a party,” Days was a minor obsession. Patch and Kayla’s love seemed tragic and beautiful, at a time when I understood neither tragedy nor beauty. Victor Kiriakis showed that evil didn’t necessarily wear black or ride a broom (though it did have a suspicious mustache). Peter “Bo” Reckell was not only my very first celebrity crush, but also my very first celebrity wall poster, predating Jon Bon Jovi by a good three years.

Even today, I try to catch up on Salem every now and then. And you know what? Not much has changed. Sure, Deidre Hall finally retired and Lucifer stopped by for a few possessions, but … seriously, how has Maggie remained 55-years-old since 1987? How has no one yet realized that Sami is kind of a jerk? How are Bo and Hope still having marital problems? You’d think a few kidnappings and fake deaths would have helped them make a decision by now.

But this was about the soup, wasn’t it? In the background of all this glorious drama was usually a bowl of hot, curative soup. Ma preferred the canned stuff, but I didn’t know the difference. All I knew was that Tony DiMera was messing with Roman again, and I didn’t like that one bit.

Today’s dish, then, is a super-basic recipe for tomato soup. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though. It’s a savory soul-warmer, flavored with an unexpected pinch of cloves. The Husband-Elect even made “mmm” sounds during the slurp-down. Try it with a grilled cheese sandwich for a frugal, hearty, Days-worthy lunch. Or, go one step better and make it when you’re sick. At worst, you get a decent meal. At best, you remember the good ol’ days of soup, soaps, and sofa-ing it up with Ma.


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Basic Tomato Soup
Serves 6
Adapted from Epicurious/Parade.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
2 26-oz. cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, one drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups reduced-fat, low-sodium veggie or chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) In a large pot or small Dutch oven, melt butter and oil over low heat.

2) Add onion and sweat until softened, about 9 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, until fragrant, stirring frequently. Add flour and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

3) Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and broth and bring to a boil. While mixture is heating up, cut tomatoes into large chunks with a pair of kitchen shears. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes (or until it reaches desired consistency), stirring occasionally. Add cloves, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

4) Puree soup using an immersion or regular blender. (Be careful if using regular blender – hot liquids can spill at first.) If you’re not into seeds, pour puree through a strainer back into the pot. (I didn’t. You don’t really notice them.) Warm a little, then serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving:
118 calories, 4.5 g fat, 3.3 g fiber, $0.76

1 tablespoon unsalted butter: 102 calories, 11.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.06
1 tablespoon olive oil: 119 calories, 13. 5 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.12
1 large onion, chopped: 63 calories, 0.2 g fat, 2.1 g fiber, $0.43
2 large cloves garlic, minced: 9 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.08
1 tablespoon flour: 28 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, $0.01
2 26-oz. cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, one drained: 302 calories, 1.6 g fat, 15.9 g fiber, $2.99
2 tablespoons tomato paste: 26 calories, 0.2 g fat, 1.4 g fiber, $0.18
1 teaspoon sugar: 16 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.01
2 cups reduced-fat, low-sodium veggie or chicken broth: 40 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.66
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
TOTAL: 705 calories, 27.1 g fat, 19.7 g fiber, $4.57
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 118 calories, 4.5 g fat, 3.3 g fiber, $0.76

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