Thursday, January 26, 2012

School lunch-inspired dinner

Am I the only one with fond school memories of Tuesday tomato soup with grilled cheese lunches?  You know, when the cooks opened 10 lb cans of this....

And slapped a few slices of this....

on this.....

Delish, right?  Fill your belly with and you were all set for a mean game of red rover at recess time. 

Tonight's dinner was inspired by all those warm fuzzy tomato soup Tuesday memories.  We had tomato soup and grilled cheese.  This soup is my favorite, I got the recipe from Our Best Bites.  This recipe makes a small batch, I would recommend doubling it. 

A quick **sidenote** before we start.  I am not a fan of canned tomatoes because of the controversy surrounding them.  If you can find diced tomatoes in a jar, I highly recommend it.  If you can buy fresh tomatoes and boil them and peel them, good for you!  I live in the middle, and would have to drive about 8 hours to find a decent tomato right now, so I used jarred tomatoes.  Also, cream cheese.....I would consider cream cheese a processed food, however my unprocessed food girl crush says it's okay.  So, we're moving forward with cream cheese!

Creamy Tomato Soup
  • 1 T reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes, or olive oil
  • 1 C chopped onion
  • ¾ C shredded carrot
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2/3 C sliced sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 3 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh basil for garnish (not optional in my opinion...but this is the way recipe was written). 
1. Place oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring often.
2. Add sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano and basil. (If you’re adding red pepper flakes, add them now)

3. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cover pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Remove from heat. Place soup in a blender (do this in 2 batches if necessary). Add cream cheese. Remove center piece of blender lid to allow steam to escape, but place a paper towel over opening in blender lid to avoid spills. Process for a few minutes until smooth. You could also add cream cheese directly to the pot and use an immersion blender to combine.
5. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and then divide soup among bowls. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese and a fresh basil leaf if desired.

Here's my soup simmering away.  I am always tempted to not blend it, and just try it like this but I know the mini McGhees will resist eating it that way with all those big chunks of vegetables floating around in there.  Therefore, I blend it in order to fool please the minis.

And here's how you blend it using a blender.  Make sure you take the top off of the lid and cover with a papertowel.  If you don't, the pressure will build up from the steam from the hot soup and pop the lid off while you are blending.  It happens, trust me.....Cara, are you still cleaning tomato soup off your white kitchen cabinets?

And here it is all delicously blended.  Delish.

We had apple slices and grilled cheese on bread from Great Harvest since I ran out of time to make a homemade loaf (and because I really wanted to go visit the ladies at Great Harvest).  We put fresh basil and guyere, gouda, and sharp cheddar on our sandwiches.  I sliced them into small wedges, so we all could enjoy the different flavored cheeses.  We're cheese nerds raising mini cheese nerds. 

And, I did all of this without a hairnet and disposable plastic apron.  I sort of wish I would have had them to wear though, just to really capture those Tuesday tomato soup day memories.

And, for dessert........HOMEMADE YOGURT!  BOO-YAH!!!!  I finally figured it out, I needed to use a smaller crockpot and keep it really wrapped tight overnight.  I woke up this morning to this....

We drizzled some honey and mashed some brown bananas in it.  Delish.