Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tomato Soup Everybody Can Enjoy

It’s hard being the sole cook in the family. Having to come up with nutritious, delicious meals that both adults and kids will eat is not as easy as it sounds. And what about the shopping? Sure, it’s great if I have time to stroll around a store, but normally I shop during my lunch break. If speed shopping where a sport, I’d win gold. Did I mention I do it 2 or 3 times a week? I’ve found that if I buy for the whole week, a lot of food goes to waste. So I shop for only 2 or 3 days at a time. Then I get home from work and have to throw it all together. Anyone else in the same boat?

If it were up to me, we’d probably eat rice and a spicy stir-fry 6 days a week. But that wouldn’t go over very well with the boys. Nor is it a varied diet, is it? Once or twice a week I ask Sonny what he’d like for dinner. Allowing him to choose gives me a little break from having to come up with something. Even if it’s something I don’t feel like eating, I’ll make it. A kid has got to be allowed to choose every once in a while, right? Today he wanted tomato soup, and even though I wasn’t in the mood for it, I threw one together. To keep it interesting, I added a few Mexican spices. I got the inspiration off the back of a commercially available tomato soup, of all places.

When I make tomato soup, I like to use the sweetest tomatoes available. Unfortunately, tomato season isn’t until July or August. My own tomatoes won’t even be ready until August or even early September. Rather than use overpriced, bland, grocery store tomatoes, I used fire-roasted canned tomatoes. I think they worked out great, adding a little extra complexity to the soup.

Tomato Soup with Mexican Spices
feeds 4 to 6
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin, toasted
  • 1 tbs dried (Mexican) oregano
  • 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 28oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
  • salt as needed, about 2 tsp
  • honey as needed, about 2-3 tbs
In a large pot over medium heat, add about 2 or 3 tbs of olive oil. When it’s hot, add the onions and fry them until they are well caramelized. It may take about 15 minutes or so. Don’t skimp on this step because the onions are a large flavor component of the soup. Canned tomatoes, even good quality ones, are not very sweet so the caramelized onions need to make up for this. Add the garlic and spices and continue to cook for about a minute more.

Put the onion mixture and tomatoes into a blender and process it until smooth. To get a smooth soup, strain it through a fine mesh strainer back into the pot. I never waste solids; I always freeze them and use them later in something. Put the pot back on the stove, add the stock or water and season with salt. If the soup is too acidic for your taste, add honey (or sugar) as needed. Bring the soup to a boil then let it simmer for 10 minutes or so. Ideally you would make this soup a day or so in advance to allow the flavors to meld, but we still enjoyed it the same day. For an extra touch, you could sauté up some Mexican chorizo and add it in.

Serve with homemade Mexican crema (or sour cream), grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro and crusty bread.

This soup freezes beautifully, so if you make more than you can eat, freeze it for a day when you don’t feel like cooking.


Wandering Chopsticks said...

I was just thinking the same thing while grocery shopping today. What do I feel like eating right now because if I buy for the rest of the week, it'll just spoil. So my shopping basket contained lotus roots, black vinegar, tapioca pearls, and extra thin rice vermicelli noodles. :P

Anonymous said...

I do the exact same thing, shopping only for a handful of meals at a time. I'm a very mood-based eater and cook too, so I hate feeling like I just HAVE to eat those melons, for example.

dp said...

WC, what are you going to do with the lotus roots? I've never cooked with them, but I've had them before. I love the way they look when they are sliced.

Nayiri, mood-based eater is the perfect term! something that sounds good at the beginning of the week usually doesn't by the end.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Lotus root soup. :) I like baby lotus roots sliced thinly in salads. And lotus seeds go into dessert. I like snacking on the seeds raw too. I'd pull them straight from the pods.