You have probably noticed that I’m already not doing too well with this whole “blogging regularly”. While most bloggers have been feverishly putting outposts daily, I haven’t posted since Valentine’s Day. In my defense, I have had a few things on my plate over the past week, so give me a chance to explain. 😉
Up until yesterday, my dear friend Brynn has been visiting me here in Atlanta. She was my best friend until I moved away from the current tundra of Minnesota after finishing ninth grade, and while we have kept in touch over the years, we started growing close again only after we had both finished college. Minus a childhood trip to Florida, which I don’t count because the culture there is so different than it is here in the Carolinas, this was Brynn’s first trip to the southeastern region of the United States. It was such fun introducing her to the places I frequent and the life I have been living since moving away from our mutual hometown over a decade ago. While I have been able to picture her life (to a point) over the years because I am so familiar with the area where she and her husband are building their home together, she has had virtually no concept of what daily life is like for me here in Charlotte other than what I have shared on social media, which we all know isn’t truly representative of reality. It’s a great feeling to know that she will now be able to envision the places to which Chris and I are venturing whenever she and I share updates on our daily lives.
I considered making this soup while Brynn was here because the weather was extremely cold for the entire duration of her trip, but I ended up skipping it, is that I also wanted to introduce her to as many Charlotte-area experiences as I could during the four days she spent here. Instead of eating soup in the confines of our apartment, Chris and I took Brynn out for an authentic Southern barbecue at Mac’s Speed Shop, a breakfast featuring the best grits around at The Flying Biscuit Cafe, and house-made pasta at Vapiano. The three of us also took in two comedy shows at both the Charlotte and Fort Mill locations of The Comedy Zone. While the three of us are all fans of comedy, we are also newbies when it comes to attending comedy clubs, so it was fun being able to try out something new to all of us.
I wish that I could somehow transport a batch of this incredible soup to Brynn and her husband, Kevin, right about now, being that it currently feels like -23 degrees in the Minneapolis area. No matter where in the U.S. you currently reside, this recipe for tomato soup from The Novice Chef will be a lifesaver for you over the next few days as extreme winter weather continues to take over the entire nation. Not only is this recipe pretty easy to execute, but it also makes 6-8 hearty servings of soup, perfect for sharing with a crowd or freezing for later.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tsp. minced garlic
1 small-medium yellow onion, sliced
2 (28 oz.) cans peeled tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fat-free half and half (I simply used the fat-free version to cut down on calories, but I have also made it with organic, full-fat half and a half; the soup turned out the same either way.)
6-8 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and black pepper, to taste
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir over heat for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
Add sliced onion to the pot and cook until the onion slices are translucent, which is usually about 8 minutes.
Add the peeled tomatoes (DO NOT DRAIN!), vegetable stock, and sugar to the pot. Bring to a low simmer and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.
Add the half and half, basil, and oregano; then season to your liking with salt and pepper. I use two cranks each of salt and pepper grinders, respectively. I would highly suggest using a grinder versus a regular shaker, as it provides more control for the cook.
Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup until there are no chunks left. I like to use my Ninja Kitchen System; just a few pulses makes the soup’s consistency creamy and savory. If you are using an older blender or one that doesn’t work very well, you may want to check carefully that there are no large onion chunks left before serving!
Serve immediately with grilled cheese, crusty rolls, or any other cheesy carb you may be craving. 😉
With the arctic temperatures that are currently whipping across the entire U.S., most of us will be cuddled up inside tonight. Chris and I will be eating tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, but what will you and your family be eating to stay warm this evening? I would love to hear your thoughts below, as always!