The soup lady returns

Well for a lot of you fall weather has set in. You might not imagine this, but we have fall here in South Florida, it just doesn’t look like that to most people North of us.

With the Tropical Storm bypassing us and the rains it kicked off, our temperatures cooled but the humidity was still high. This weekend, that changed and we have had beautiful S. Florida fall weather.  What that means is that it has been in the mid to low 80’s during the day and 70’s at night. I love it!

I know in Dallas it is quite a bit cooler and I do miss that crisp fall weather and with it, eating a nice bowl of soup. So in the interest of fall, I have restarted my soup making with a fresh vegetable packed Minestrone.

Back in my housewife days (wow, how many moons ago was that?) I used to watch the PBS cooking shows. One of my favorite shows was The Frugal Gourmet.

The Frugal Gourmet, was Jeff Smith, a former Methodist Minister turned caterer/ deli owner and cookbook author. He was not without some drama in his career as he was accused of sexual abuse of young boys in the late 90’s.

Still, in spite of his personal history, I liked his shows and his cookbooks. His recipes were easy, tasty and no nonsense.  I credit him with my learning to like Tomato Soup.

I always hated the stuff. Canned tomato soup was salty and unpalatable to me. I found a recipe in a Frugal Gourmet cookbook for a fresh tomato soup. I happened to have a glut of homegrown tomatoes at the time, so I tried it. Voila….I am now a tomato soup advocate. The best part is the simplicity of the recipe! Mr. Smith was also concerned about heart health, so the soup gives the option to use less fat laden milk rather than cream.

I had gone to my favorite farm store last week and as I often do, overbought vegetables. This weekend I decided to use the Tomato Soup recipe as a base for a minestrone using the fresh veggies.   My mother sent over some freshly baked cornbread and it made a nice meal, lunch or dinner.

Here is the recipe for the minestrone, using his base recipe.

The soup lady’s minestrone

 The base recipe:

6 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tbl butter or oil (I didn’t use that much and I used ½ butter, ½ olive oil)
3 cups Chicken Soup Stock ( I use chicken like broth. You can also use low sodium if you need to)
1 cup milk or cream (I used neither for the minestrone. For the Tomato soup you could probably substitute soy milk for a vegan variation)
Salt and pepper to taste
I added a pinch of thyme to my soup
Celery leaves for garnish

Sauté the tomatoes in the butter or oil until they are tender. Mix the tomatoes with the soup stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Run the mixture through a food blender (I used a hand blender…wow was that easy) Put back into the saucepan and add the milk or cream and a pat of butter if you are making the tomato soup (Omit this step for the minestrone but throw in the thyme).
Heat and serve with celery leaf garnish.

Now wasn’t that incredibly easy for a fresh tomato soup?

What I added for the minestrone

1/2 onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
I sautéed the garlic and onion in a minimum of oil, then added it to the soup after the tomato soup was blended.

I then added:

1 zucchini chopped in small chunks
¾  Idaho potato cut in small chunks
1 carrot chopped
1 stick of celery chopped

I cooked everything until the veggies were tender then threw in a handful of cooked macaroni and some basil pesto. You can use any cooked pasta you like, even alphabets for that matter (an adult alphabet soup…I like it!) and fresh chopped basil would work rather than the pesto.
Salt and Pepper again to taste.
I grated some fresh parmesan over and it was good that way, but today I tried adding some goat cheese and I liked that a lot too.

One thing I didn’t add but I should have, was some cooked navy or white beans (or any that you like for that matter).

The point is, use the veggies you have and it makes a great vegetable soup.

I hope you will try the tomato soup and later make your own variation. It’s real good. You will like it!

Have a great week….and don’t forget to exercise.

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