Well, cookie month is over here at Little Miss Kate but I doubt cookie month is over for you at your house. With any luck, you’ll have more than a handful parties to attend or throw, a stack full of holiday lunches with friends, dinners out, drinks, and at every turn cookies, sweets, and absolutely zero time to get it all done.
Here’s how I’ve come to help. We’re going to talk about light and simple dinners this December. Food that will combat all the sweets and all the butter that you’ll be eating elsewhere with meals that can be made ridiculously fast, so that you are sure to get something yummy to eat in between shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating and packing.
Today, we’ve got classic tomato soup from Fine Cooking. I made the soup while my kids were eating lunch, it simmered during their naps while I was out at the One of a Kind Show. My husband turned off the heat when the timer went off and pureed it in just a few moments and then it was ready for dinner. I just reheated it that evening. It also stores extremely well in the fridge or freezer if you’re inclined to make extra. You can make it a meal by serving with fresh bread and cheese (who has time to grill sandwiches?).
The key tool here, though, is a stick blender. I make a lot of soup, so we have one. They don’t cost much and it saves the enormous headache of pouring hot soup into your blender to puree the soup. If you don’t have one, you could always ask Santa!
Classic Tomato Soup
Yeild: 8 cups (about 8 servings)
2 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tblsp. butter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
2 Tblsp. all purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
28-oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes and juice
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
3 Tblsp. dill
In a non-reactive 5-6 quart Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Add the onion (which will seem like a lot of onion but its ok) and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned. About 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the onion and garlic. Continue cooking about 1-2 minutes.
Add the broth, tomatoes, sugar, thyme, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. At this point, I used a potato masher and squashed all of the tomatoes. The recipe suggested pureeing the tomatoes ahead of time, but I think this method has less mess and less clean-up. Bring to a boil over medim-high heat while stirring the mixture to make sure that the flour is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.
Let cool briefly and then puree with your stick blender (or in two – three batches in your blender). Notice that I did not puree the soup to a velvety smoothness. It actually makes me feel a little more that the soup is hearty and homemade vs. diluted gel from a can. You know? Season to taste with salt and pepper. At this point, soup can be transferred to containers to be stored for a week in the fridge or months in the freezer. Serve hot, garnished with the dill.
You can also garnish this soup with a bit of cream or yogurt. Or, add milk or cream into the recipe. If you want to add dairy, do it when the soup is only just warm. Soup with dairy won’t store or reheat as well. I recommend adding it to individual bowls just before serving.