Mei making dumplings


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Irene making dumplings
Use-It-Up Creamy Tomato Soup
grilled cheese and tomato soup

I'm cleaning out the fridge and pantry and have a bunch of potatoes and onions that have been hiding in cupboards for a long time, as well as a past-expiration-date-but-still-smelling-totally-normal carton of heavy cream. What to make? There's always potato soup, but we also have bread and cheese and I want to eat grilled cheese...and we have two large cans of tomatoes. Tomato soup and grilled cheese it is! 

After a quick internet search, this Creamy Tomato Soup recipe from Bon Appetit looks delicious, but I have no tomato paste. I hate buying tomato paste because I always end up throwing half of it out. What I do have instead that's kind of like tomato paste and always in the refrigerator? Ketchup! Not only does it have concentrated tomato flavor, but it's got a bit of acid and sugar, which means I don't have to use any added sugar in the soup. Problem solved. 

This soup recipe can take all kinds of adjustments and substitutions if you're not strict on your tomato soup flavorings. Use water, broth, or extra kitchen scrap stock you have in the fridge or freezer. Pour in any creamy liquid you need to use up at the end. I didn't have any fresh herbs, so I added thyme and oregano that I'd set aside earlier in the year to keep from wasting them. And mix in any veggies that you need to use up - I added potato chunks with the tomatoes, but could have also tossed in squash or beets or broccoli or fennel. Soup is such a good way to use up extra veggies! Then all you need is some grilled bread and cheese and you've got a perfect meal....

The Rough Recipe

Adapted from Bon Appetit. This takes about 25 minutes to assemble and another hour to finish cooking. Vegan with olive oil and coconut milk, vegetarian with butter and cream. Gluten-free if you leave off the grilled cheese sandwiches, but I can't eat tomato soup without them so maybe grab some GF bread? 

Here's what you need:

  • a big stockpot
  • 1/2 stick butter or 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • a few cloves garlic
  • a handful of woodsier herbs like thyme, oregano or rosemary (fresh, dried, or frozen - tie them into a bunch if you have a lot of stems)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (or tomato paste and a bit of sugar to sweeten)
  • Two large cans or boxes of whole or diced tomatoes, with juices (aim for about 50 ounces)
  • Other veggies such as potatoes, broccoli, squash, fresh tomatoes, carrots, celery, etc. that you need to use up
  • 8 cups water, broth, or Kitchen Scrap Meat or Veggie Stock
  • 1/4 cup or more of heavy cream, half and half, creme fraiche, sour cream or coconut milk (optional but delicious)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For serving - grilled cheese please. Bonus points if you use up random salad leaves or hearty greens by stuffing them in your sandwich. 

Melt your butter or heat your olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat, then add your aromatics such as onion, garlic and any herbs you might be using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is completely softened, then add a good squirt of ketchup. Stir, letting the ketchup caramelize for a few minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, any additional veggies you're using, and the water or stock to the pan. Turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a light boil, then reduce the heat back to medium and let simmer for 45 to 60 minutes (this is a perfect time to leisurely make your grilled cheese sandwiches). Let the soup cool a bit and discard any thick herb stems. Use a blender in batches or an immersion blender in the pot to puree the soup until smooth. 

Stir in the creamy liquid to taste and add a good amount of kosher salt and pepper. If necessary, add a pinch of sugar but I found it wasn't necessary with the ketchup. Leftovers will last for ages and you can also freeze what you don't eat relatively soon. 

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