I like to cook. I don’t get to really cook very often these days, but when I do I like to try new things.
I have a cook book called ‘Quick and Easy’ by Stephen Knowlden. The thing that it weird about it is half the recipes are quick and easy and half are not. I mean, any recipe that calls for saffron does not fall in the easy category in my book and when the prep time on a recipe is 6 1/4 hours, I don’t call that quick (to be fair that does include a marinate time, but when a book is named ‘Quick and Easy’ one doesn’t expect to find a recipe like that inside).
Those things aside, I really like the cook book. The layout is great. It has a picture of each dish, nutritional information, and difficulty, prep and cook time for every recipe. The recipes are wonderful. The dishes are either unusual or twists on a classic. We really like that in our family, we are adventurous gastronomicaly.
Funny story. I was at the farmers market, where I try to buy most, if not all, of our produce. Somehow I managed to wind up with two bags of tomatoes. I’m not sure if it was because of the little children helpers I had with me or if some poor soul got home without their tomatoes, but I checked my receipt and I paid for both so I kept them. I knew I wasn’t going to use them up in time in salad and sandwiches so I decided I would try a soup recipe I’d not made before. I pulled out my Quick and Easy book and made the ‘The Tomato and Pasta Soup’.
4Tbt unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 lb italian plum tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
pinch of baking soda
8 oz dried fusilli
1 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves to garnish
Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes, stirring. Add 1 1/3 cups vegetable stock to the pan, with the chopped tomatoes and baking soda. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the head and set aside to cool. Puree the soup and pour through a fine strainer back into the saucepan.
Add the remaining vegetable stock and the fusilli to the pan, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Swirl the heavy cream around the surface of the soup and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately.
So, I boiled water and skinned the tomatoes, I chopped them and chopped the onion. I weighed the fusilli and started the butter melting in a large pot. I added the onion and went to go get the vegetable stock and realized that we were out. We had chicken stock and beef broth but no vegetable. It was eight o’clock at night and the onions were going and I needed to get the stock. So I said “whatever” and grabbed the chicken stock. Best mistake ever. The chicken stock added a fullness and a richness to the tomato soup that was just divine! It was so rich that I left the heavy cream out (which really helped the calorie content!)
The first time I made this the quantity of pasta was too much. It was more like a pasta and sauce, but it was so great we didn’t care. The second time I doubled the soup and left the pasta at the same amount. One thing that the recipe doesn’t specify is that you use that second cooking time to cook the pasta. The second time I made it I boiled the pasta separately and then added the right amount at the end, not wanting to overwhelm the soup with pasta. The pasta wasn’t nearly as good without the soup flavor cooked into it. I’ve tried it with and without the heavy cream; frankly I think with the chicken stock it doesn’t need it, but if you make it with the veggie, it probably would be perfect.
I hope the next time you have a hankering for tomato soup you give this recipe a try. Let me know if you do.