Posts Tagged 'dried thyme'

Creamy Tomato Soup

A steamy bowl of creamy tomato soup and a warm grilled cheese sandwich is a marriage made in heaven.  Nothing can satisfy me more on a cold, wintery day.

But you know, it is amazing to me how different tomato soup recipes can be.

For years I used a recipe that called for roasted Roma tomatoes as the base of the soup.  Supposedly, roasting the tomatoes intensified the tomato flavor of the soup.

Then one day, I was craving a bowl of tomato soup but only had canned tomatoes. I decided to give it a try with the ingredients I had on hand.  And guess what?!  It was just as delicious.  When you think about it, it makes since.  Canned tomatoes are picked and then canned at the peak of ripeness. The reason for roasting was to transform those bland winter tomatoes into tasty summer ones.

So glad I experimented with what was in my pantry.  Now I can make one of my favorite soups in 45 minutes less time than I did before! And now you can too!


Creamy Tomato Soup
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cans (28-ounce) whole tomatoes with juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the whole tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the oregano, thyme, and sugar and stir to combine. Pour in the chicken stock and stir to combine. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the tomatoes have softened and the soup has thickened, about 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup until smooth. Whisk in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Serves 4 to 6.

Cooking Tip: If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can easily puree this soup in a counter-top blender. Whenever pureeing hot liquid in a blender, remove the heat cap in the lid and cover with a towel to prevent the mixture from exploding all over you and your kitchen. Work in batches, only filling the blender half full. Also be sure to hold the lid down tightly while pureeing.

The granulated sugar in this recipe helps balance the acidity of the canned tomatoes.

Freezes well.


Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is the quintessential Louisianan comfort food. Nothing satisfies like steaming bowl of tender flavorful beans over classic white rice.

My uncle makes the best version.  The key is to start with good dried beans.  According to him, the best out there are Camellia Red Kidneys.  It’s the Louisiana brand he has been using his whole life … and the same one my grandmother used when she taught him this recipe oh so many years ago.

Whenever I go to New Orleans, I always pick up a few bags of this iconic dried bean.  I couldn’t imagine making this dish without them.  (If you don’t regularly visit the Big Easy, you can order them on-line.) To be honest though, my preference may be fairly rooted in the nostalgia of using my grandmother’s recipe and I am sure that any good dried red kidney bean would work if you don’t have easy access to the Camellia brand.

The hardest part about this recipe is remembering to soak the beans the night before!  It truly is a simple one to master and destined to become a favorite.


Red Beans and Rice
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

1 pound dried red kidney beans, rinsed and sorted over
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup finely sliced celery (about 1 rib)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound smoked ham hock
1/2 pound smoked Andouille sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
10 cups water
6 cups cooked white rice, warm

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ham hock and sausage and cook, stirring, to brown the ham hocks and sausage, about 4 minutes. Add the beans and water.

Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add additional water while cooking if necessary.

Remove the ham hock from the pot and pull the meat from the bones. Roughly chop the meat and return it back to the pot of beans. Adjust seasonings as needed. Discard the bay leaves. Spoon over white rice to serve.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: Add Tabasco® or your favorite hot sauce for a little heat.

Do-Ahead: Cooked red beans store very well in the refrigerator. Some even say they taste better the second day!

Jennifer Chandler

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