Monday, September 21, 2009

Souper Stuff

When the weather starts getting cooler (in the 70s here in Texas), my mind turns to colder days to come, sniffly noses (ours and others'), and warm foods. It is during this time of anticipation that my thoughts turn to soup.

For several years now it has been my habit to take a day and make multiple kinds of soups, pour them into bowls, label them nicely, and tuck them into our freezer. Today is that day.


The soups I make aren't fancy or hard. If they were hard, I wouldn't waste my time. Instead, I stick with a two or three favorite recipes. Today's soups are Tomato Basil Soup (I still speak blessings over my friend Christine Petri for sharing this recipe with me) and My Mom's Vegetable Soup.

I love these soups for several reasons.
  • They are easy on a sore throat.
  • They freeze well and defrost easily, too.
  • Left-overs are better than the first bowl.
  • It's easy to double or triple them.
  • They are inexpensive.
  • They are easy to stick in a bowl and take to others who need some body and/or soul food.
  • Did I mention they are incredibly easy?
How easy? Let me tell you.


My Mom's Vegetable Soup
Underneath all that delicious broth are simple ingredients.
Burger meat of whatever quality
Onion (I usually white or yellow)
Water
Corn
Diced Tomato
(General Ratio: 1 pound burger, 1 can corn, 1 can diced tomato, 1/4 onion)
1. Break up the burger meat and put it in a large soup bowl. I try to start with the meat in balls. It is a mental thing for me, but usually it cooks apart.
2. Cut the onion into half rings and drop them in. If you liked them chopped, do that. You really can't get this wrong.
3. Add enough water to cover the beef and onions with a cup or so extra.
4. Salt and pepper to taste.
5. Boil the meat and onion until the meat is cooked.
6. Drain the tomatoes and corn and add them.
7. Cover it up and let all the flavors get to know each other awhile.
I make a huge batch of this, but we also have freezer space for it. If you don't, no problem. Cut the ratio back to what fits in your pan and your fridge. Just use the ratio above. If you want something heartier, add what you like. Green beans, carrots, and celery make for great additions, too.
Tomato Basil Soup
4 cups (8 to 10) tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped or 4 cups canned whole tomatoes crushed
4 cups tomato juice or part tomato joice and part vegetable or chicken broth
12 to 14 washed fresh basil leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 sweet unsalted butter
salt to taste
1/4 t cracked black pepper
Combine tomatoes, juice, and/or stock in a saucepan (pot). Simmer 30 minutes, puree along with basil leaves in small batches in blender or food processor. Return to saucepan and add cream and butter while stirring over low heat. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with your favorite bread.
Personal notes:
I use a big can of tomato juice and a two big cans of crushed tomatoes because it is convenient. Then I double the amount of basil, cream, and butter.
I also puree the juice and tomatoes first BEFORE they get really hot. Once I wasn't careful and added to much hot mix to the blender, and the top blew off. It might have been funny if it hadn't been blistering hot. Now, I just puree it right up front. I would think you could add pureed tomatoes and skip that extra step all together, but I can't promise.
When I serve this, we always add cheese and chunks of bread. If you have bread that is a bit old (but not fuzzy yet), cube it and toss it in. We also make grilled cheese sandwiches to eat with it. I cut mine into squares and lay the squares on top of the soup, and then I dip the others and let them soak up the soup. YUM!


Our freezer stocked and ready for the cooler temperatures.
Hope you have a souper day, too!!!

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