Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: Quick Tomato Soup May 28, 2014

1. Saute yummy vegetables and spices together in olive oil.

1. Saute yummy vegetables and spices together in olive oil.

A few years ago, my sister and I were at the store and grabbed a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, thinking we’d have a quick dinner together.  When we heated the soup later, we were sadly disillusioned.  I hadn’t expected to be able to taste the high fructose corn syrup that Campbell’s had (inexplicably) added.

We tried seasoning it, but in the end we had to give up: the soup of our childhood did not taste anything like we remembered.

Giving up Campbell’s tomato soup was easy since it wasn’t even edible to me.  However, giving up tomato soup in general was impossible–it’s the best thing ever with grilled cheese.  So here’s a quick recipe that doesn’t involve long cooking times, roasting tomatoes or red peppers, or doing any other sort of elaborate cooking. I’m sure you can find more delicious recipes out there, but this is a good, basic, and fast way to have soup without having to buy the high-fructose-corn-syrup version.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-5 tomatoes, chopped
1 32 oz. can tomatoes (I like the diced ones)
a splash of broth (chicken or veggie)
Italian seasoning to taste
salt & pepper to taste

2.  Add the liquid ingredients to make the soup base.

2. Add the liquid ingredients to make the soup base.

Directions:

  1. Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent (about 2-3 minutes).  Add in garlic, then tomatoes and Italian seasoning, and sauté another minute or so (sautéing your spices makes even dried spices far more flavorful, and it means you don’t have to later simmer the soup quite as long).
  2. Just before the veggies start to stick, dump in can of tomatoes.
  3. Add broth and salt/pepper.
  4. If you, like Campbell’s, feel the need to sweeten your soup, you can add about a teaspoon of sugar, but please don’t overdo it!  I don’t find I really miss the sugar, and it’s just extra calories that I don’t need.
  5. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the flavors mix together.
  6. Blend with a handheld blender (also called a stick blender or immersion blender–if there was one kitchen appliance I could take to a desert island, it would be my handheld blender).
  7. Serve with grilled cheese.
3. Simmer, blend with handheld blender, and serve with grilled cheese!

3. Simmer, blend with handheld blender, and serve with grilled cheese!

 

Sarah: May Minestrone May 5, 2014

Why go out to Olive Garden when you can make minestrone just as delicious on your own stove?

Why go out to Olive Garden when you can make minestrone just as delicious on your own stove?

The Italians have been holding out on us, everyone.  I love minestrone soup, but I always imagined that each Italian family had a complex family recipe that took hours of simmering until it came to miraculous minestrone perfection.

This weekend, I had the epiphany that minestrone is really just the perfect excuse to use whatever leftover veggies happen to be in your house.  Family recipes notwithstanding, minestrone changes with the seasons according to what is ripe and ready.

Note: I made this in less than 45 minutes after a weekend away, while putting away groceries in the kitchen.  It’s not too difficult–the chopping is the only time-consuming part.

For a quick version at home, there are only about four essential ingredients.  The rest is a choose-your-own-adventure meal!  The other lovely thing about this is that you can make it dairy or gluten free by omitting the cheese on top or the pasta noodles.

Minestrone

Four essential ingredients (which you probably have already in your cupboard or fridge):

  • 1 large can (32 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 4 c. broth (of any kind, really)
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste (I did 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper)

Ingredients I put in my soup tonight (because they needed to be used up or happened to be on sale at the store today):

  • 1/2 a purple onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 small red potatoes
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • a handful of penne pasta
  • a can of beans (I used a tricolor mix, but you can use white, pinto, kidney, whatever)
  • parmesan cheese
1.  Chop, chop, chop the veggies (we like them in small pieces in our house--otherwise, Keith calls it "lazy soup").

1. Chop, chop, chop the veggies (we like them in small pieces in our house–otherwise, Keith calls it “lazy soup”).

2. Sautee the onion until translucent, then add the garlic.  Add other veggies in order of cooking time--potatoes went first for me, then asparagus.

2. Sautee the onion in olive oil until translucent, then add the garlic. Add other veggies in order of cooking time–potatoes went first for me, then asparagus.

3. Next came squash.  After it had all sautéed a bit, I added the broth.

3. Next came squash. After it had all sautéed a bit, I added the broth.

4.  Then comes the can of tomatoes (with the tomato juice--why pour that down the drain when it adds to the soup?).

4. Then comes the can of tomatoes (with the tomato juice–why pour that down the drain when it adds to the soup?).  Stir in the spices now, too, so that it all boils together.

6.  During the last 10 minutes or so of cooking, add the beans and the pasta.  Serve when the pasta gets soft, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese…because cheese makes everything better.

6. After it all boils, let the veggies soften a bit, but if you’re adding pasta, don’t let them get too mushy.  During the last 10 minutes or so of cooking, add the beans and the pasta. Serve when the pasta gets soft, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese…because cheese makes everything better.

 

 
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