Oma’s Tomato Soup in a Flash

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8485/8229018495_c87efff086.jpg

There are days when I crave french fries, when all I want to do is stop by Yats, this yummy Cajun-Creole restaurant in town, and pick up some chili cheese etouffee. I have weeks where jet lag is clearly a real thing, but I refuse to admit it exists. I will not be weak. Winter starts to creep in, days get shorter, and by the time you get home, the sun has set, the dog still needs to be walked, and despite the fact that it’s only 6 p.m., it’s much too dark and late to make real dinner.

Do not give in to the urge to get french fries or your city’s equivalent of chili cheese etouffee from Yats. Instead make tomato soup. I bet you have all of the ingredients in your house. If not, this weekend stock up on canned tomatoes, buy a spice container of cloves and a jar of Better Than Bullion, and make a habit of always having an onion or two and some garlic in your house.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8480/8190138018_d6a12d59e9.jpg

This tomato soup is special. Twice a year we would see my grandparents who lived in Holland. My grandmother, Oma, would make this soup with little mini meatballs floating in it. I remember her standing over the stove in her green kitchen making this soup. We would have it or her chicken noodle soup before every lunch in wide bowls with wide rims. My grandfather would pick up his bowl and always slurp out the last drops. I looked forward to Oma’s tomato soup every time they visited us in Indiana. She’d make a big pot first thing and we’d have it before dinner every night.

Even now that Oma is gone, Opa still eats soup every night. When he was here over the summer he gifted me Oma’s cookbook. It’s an old green, hardcover notebook with pages of handwritten recipes. Oma took a cooking class when she was young. Each night she would come home and tell Opa the recipes of the day. He then carefully wrote them down in the notebook.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8343/8242389781_34d4edf7d0.jpg

This tomato soup is a cinch to make. It requires maybe 10 minutes of hands-on time and 40 minutes of simmering, flavor melding time. This tomato soup has been my go-to meal this fall on nights when I can’t muster up the energy to make a full-on dinner. Plus I happened to be given the glorious gift of a HUGE amount of tomatoes at the end of the summer, which I canned into 10 quarts of tomato awesomeness. Make a pot of this. Double the recipe. Triple it. Curl up with a bowl of it as the days grow shorter. For me, it tastes like childhood. I hope for you it tastes like an easy and healthy dinner on a night you just couldn’t squeeze out one more drop of energy.

Continue reading

Day 1 – Scotcheroos and Corn Cakes

Day one of 30 Days of Creativity was a delicious success. I got creative in the kitchen. Start easy and where you’re comfortable, right? On Sunday we went to a barbeque hosted by a former co-worker. We’d been camping Friday through Sunday morning near Bloomington, so I needed something easy to make. Lucky for us, I requested breakfast on the way home from our campsite at Bloomington Bagel Company. Michael spotted a Peanut Butter Crunch bar in the dessert case and declared it very good. Could we reproduce it? One taste and I said hell yes, this is gonna be easy! These are scotcheroos!

Have you heard of scotcheroos? They’re like Rice Krispie Treats but better because they involve peanut butter, butterscotch, and chocolate. I use the word addicting loosely here. I ate one at the barbeque and then two more on the way home.

Scotcheroos seemed to be the easy and obvious choice for Day 1 for multiple reasons: Michael requested I make them again, and soon; they take literally 15 minutes to make; no oven; did I mention delicious?

We also had corn cakes with avocado and tomato salsa for dinner.

I prepped half of this meal (the corn cake batter) while I ate breakfast at the counter this morning. All that was left to do tonight was cut up veggies for salsa and cook the cakes. The meal is flavorful and balanced, filling and yet not heavy. The sweet corn cakes go nicely with the bright salsa. I love combining tomatoes and avocados. Just something about the flavors mixing together. Next time will add some black beans to the salsa. And the bright colors in this meal were actually fun to photograph! Continue reading

Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Oh the weather outside is frightful…cold…frigid…very winter-like for early December. Perfect soup weather. And perfect running weather.

That’s right bitches. I ran outside in 20° weather yesterday and today. And today I ran my best 5K time – 25 minutes. And then, just for good measure, I ran another half a mile. Total mileage and timeage? 3.6 miles in just under 30 minutes.

Now I swear I’m not bragging. I’m just amazed by myself. In high school, when we were forced to run at crew practice, my friend and I were the last people to finish because we walked most of the way. So guys, if I can do it, so can you. I swear.

Now, once you finish running, or just standing outside for 2 seconds, you’ll need something to warm you up. And I’ve got that covered. You will need a bowlful of red lentil and vegetable soup. It’s like tomato soup with substance, a bright sunny kick from some lemon juice, and a nice, warm cumin flavor.

Cumin reminds me of my dad’s chili, which reminds me of being toasty in winter.

Toasty up your insides. Make this soup. Maybe add some green beans, because that’s kind of what I want to do next time I make it. And there will be a next time, and a time after that, and a time after that…….

Continue reading