Tomato Soup to Comfort the Soul

Wow, has it really been 12 months since my last post?! It always amazes me how much time flies. I have no excuses to make, nor do I feel like I need to justify anything. The past year has taken me through a full spectrum of emotions and experiences, none of which I would change. In spite of everything that has happened, I been battling creative block.

But, here I am today, facing the same screen and blinking cursor which has been haunting me for months.

It’s February and we’re in the middle of winter. Snow storms and below freezing temperatures drag us towards heartwarming meals and into cozy blankets, in search of comfort to console our lack of sunshine. To heal my soul from the harshness of winter and my emotional-creative-rollercoaster, I was craving a wholesome tomato soup.

Completely ignoring the fact it is not tomato season, making a soup with these pasty winter tomatoes we get here in Quebec is probably the best way to have them, second only to oven-roasted. This recipe is my own and I hope it brings you warmth as much as it did for me.

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Winter’s Tomato Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 4 cups Italian tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • fresh sprigs of thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onions, pepper and thyme. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions and peppers are soft. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, turn the heat down to medium, cover and allow them to cook down for a few minutes.

Once the tomatoes begin to soften, add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the sundried tomatoes and water. Once the water reaches a soft boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the tomato soup is cooked, remove from heat and let it cool a bit before puréeing it in a blender.

To serve, simply reheat the tomato soup and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, butter or cream, with grilled bread, a spoonful of plain yogurt or sour cream, or even topped with some cheese. Whatever it is you’re craving, go for it!

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Spice Roasted Chickpea and Cauliflower Soup

After a few feet of snow that have been piling up throughout eastern Canada (and mostly the US), the temperature is dropping, so it’s time to curl up with a hearty and satisfying soup. This soup was inspired by a recipe in one of the fall issues of Bon Appétit magazine and has since taken on many phases of evolution.

First I made the original one from Bon Appétit which you can find here. You have to try these chickpeas; they are seriously addictive. Spicy, nutty and crunchy; best of luck getting them from the baking sheet to the table.  The key really is in the toasted cumin and coriander seeds spice blend that I also used for the catfish sandwich.

On another occasion I had planned on making the same recipe but had cauliflower sitting in my fridge that really needed to be consumed asap. So I added the cauliflower florets to the baking sheet along with a couple of cloves of minced garlic.

Then this other time, I was having some friends over for dinner and was serving a cauliflower purée as a side (boil cauliflower until tender, blend with a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and that’s all folks), and needed some sort of presentation topping. Eureka, the roasted chickpeas were perfect!

Finally, one dreary weekend in January I had a craving for something hot and filling…and that is how this Spice Roasted Chickpea and Cauliflower Soup came to be.

Wanna make it? Here’s how:

  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tbsp toasted cumin and coriander seeds spice blend
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, for roasting
  • 4 cups diluted broth (broth mixed with water, half and half)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the chickpeas, cauliflower, onion, garlic with the spice blend and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until brown and caramelized, tossing the vegetables once in a while to cook evenly.

Allow to cool slightly then process in your blender gradually adding the diluted broth until you have reached the desired consistency. I used chicken broth, but for all the vegetarians out there, you can easily substitute with veggie broth. Pour into a pot and bring to a simmer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Note: The soup will thicken when reheated on the stovetop. Either add more diluted broth while blending or reheating.