The Taste Of Summer Tomatoes On This Cold Winter Day
As expected the weather here in St. Louis took another turn. Our dear Stan Musial was laid to rest on a brisk Monday, it got even warmer the next day. While it reached 70° yesterday, it is now 30°, flurrying with snow, and so windy it feels much colder. It seemed just like summer yesterday…as if I could go out, listen to the Cardinals on the radio, and pick green beans, peppers and tomatoes from the garden. But to go out among the bare trees and dried grass and scrub to fill the bird feeders, gave me a good shove back to reality…it sure is January!
My craving for the taste of summer was satisfied by thinking up a meal made of summer tomatoes I canned, herbs I grew and dried, and fresh onions which I always keep in the ‘fridge. And this meal of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches is how I transported myself back to summer while enjoying, warmth and comfort in winter. For the tomato soup I used:
- One quart size jar of canned tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- one finely diced onion
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- a dash of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
To make this soup saute the onion a bit in the olive oil using a good size pot. Add the herbs and garlic, and cook until the onions are nicely browned on the edges. Add the juice only from the tomatoes to deglaze the pot. Using a processor or blender, puree the onions, herbs and the juice from the pot, add the whole tomatoes and pulse a few times until the mixture is finely chopped…don’t forget to pull out the bay leaf temporarily. Put the mixture back in the pot replace the bay leaf , add the dairy products, the sugar, salt and pepper, then let it simmer a while. Check the flavor and add what it might need. Mine needed a pinch more salt and sugar.
While the soup was simmering, I cut up some vegetables…green peppers and cucumber, and I got out the griddle and made grilled cheese sandwiches on buttered French bread with American cheese…a fine fusion.
When everything was done, I plated up this meal of what I call the ultimate comfort food. We were definitely comforted by these warm summery flavors, the warmth of the soup, and especially the warmth of each other’s company. We all had fun reminiscing about summer, all those lovely tomatoes, and while I cleaned up I enjoyed watching Jeff and Julia have a heated match of Battle Ship, one of our favorite board games. Julia’s naval prowess was superior and she soundly whipped her father at sea.