Meatless Monday – Tomato Soup

I was in a funk. The kiddo was sick and the day’s plans dashed. After walking the dogs, I decided to cook the rest of the day away. I created some lovely food, and the acts of creating and serving those I love helped lift the gray clouds from my atmosphere.

C19 had called from college to report that his girlfriend was home from college, sick. Apparently, tomato soup is her favorite, and he promised I would make some for her. Easy enough.

After school this afternoon, Q13 opened the fridge and started hollering, sure that I had delivered away all of the soup. Nah, of course I made extra, and it’s our dinner tonight. Tomorrow we will dive in to the vegan veggie-happy lasagna I also made, and maybe eventually I’ll share here that recipe as well.

C19 called today to say thank you, that GF had eaten soup for dinner last night and lunch today, that it was warm and comforting and perfect. He confessed: he thought I had opened a box of grocery store soup. They had no idea it was real, home-made soup. Which Q13 tells me I should consider a compliment, that the soup was so good it could have come from a box. Silly kids! It’s better than a box, and just about that easy.

Tomato Soup
Makes 6 servings

3 Tbsp non-dairy butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Coarse salt & ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp tomato paste
4 14.5 oz cans tomatoes (do not drain)
4 c veggie broth
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (or no-salt herb/veggie seasoning)
½ Tbsp dried basil
½ Tbsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
Optional: 1 c cooked brown rice

In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add oil and onion, season w/ salt and pepper. After 3 minutes, add garlic. Cook until onion is translucent, about 2 more minutes. Stir in flour and tomato paste, cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes in their liquid, broth, vinegar and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Use an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender) to puree. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Stir in rice before serving, if using.

This recipe is something of a blank canvas. The variations all depend on your taste buds!
Roast tomatoes, garlic and even diced bell peppers and use in place of one or more cans of tomatoes.
Use cans of whole peeled, diced, stewed or fire roasted tomatoes with whatever seasonings float your boat.
Swap out the vinegar for red wine.
Use fresh herbs instead of dried.

 

Meatless Monday – Cooking with Teen

Last week Teen’s senior class had a fundraiser with a local pizza place. They make a delicious deep dish spinach and mushroom pizza. And if you like, they’ll make it with whole wheat crust and vegan cheese. Yum!patxis-pizza

While I had been anticipating leftovers for dinner all day long, I returned home to find that Teen had shared my vegan pizza with his friends. My only consolation is that they ate it–and liked it! If they’d spit it out in disgust, well, then I would have been really upset.

Consequentially, Teen needed to prepare dinner for the family. He likes to cook, so this wasn’t punishment, just unusual.

He chose the menu. He invited (with permission) a cute girl to join us. I knew I’d need to play a supporting role in this endeavor, but I let him take the lead. All in the name of experience.

Teen brain + ADHD + limited experience = lots of room for learning!

He left prep for half-hour before we were supposed to eat. Dinner necessarily moved back by more than an hour.
He forgot to check for ingredients. He had to make a grocery run mid-process.
He couldn’t find ingredients in the store. He asked for help.

Now I’m thinking we need to do this more often. The meal turned out great–healthy, easy, delicious. The time together even better. The learning? Invaluable. Of course we have cooked together many times before but now, as we’re both increasingly aware that college is coming, we need to maximize both togetherness and tools for healthy eating.

He made Quinoa & Black Bean Salad (cute girl requested a quinoa salad). To round out the meal, I suggested he also make Tomato, Black Bean & Corn Soup. Because (sadly) TJ’s boxed Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup, the base for aforementioned soup, contains milk and I’m off dairy, I also made Spicy Black Bean Soup.

While he shoveled tortilla chips with green salsa into his mouth, while I sipped chardonnay, we talked and laughed. He learned that zesting a lime before juicing adds so much yum to a vinaigrette. He already knew to roll the lime before cutting to extract all its juicy goodness. He learned to consider in advance which pots and pans will be necessary to cook which dishes. He learned to judge amounts by eyeing them, and that his shakes with dried spices tend to be more generous than mine. He learned to go slowly with spices, to taste test and adjust as necessary.

Healthy meal. Time well-spent. Cute girl impressed. An all-around good evening!

Meatless Monday

My sweet Guy bought me an Advent gift, this beautiful book I look forward to savoring:

Advent bk

For some reason, this picture insists on uploading sideways. Then again, my Advent/Christmas/life/today seems to always be a little sideways so perhaps that’s exactly right.

And today, December 1st, these words leap off the page and into my heart: “Jesus…whispers to you in a noisy world: ‘Right where you are, look for the small glimpses of My love unfurling around you….’

“Miracles happen whenever we speak words that make souls stronger. Miracles happen whenever we look for shoots of Jesus’ love everywhere – because this grows deep roots in Jesus’ love for everyone. Miracles happen in the drawing close to the little people, the least people, the lonely people, the lost people – because this is drawing close to Jesus. This is how we all draw love everywhere.” Ann Voskamp, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, p8

And later I read this from our mission partner Amor Ministries: “…do we really live our Christmas season as if it will change the world?”

I want to glimpse Jesus’ love right where I am. I want to witness as God unleashes miracles in our mundane. I want to draw love everywhere. I want to participate in God’s change in the world. Don’t you?

I’ve been meaning to post this Meatless Monday recipe for a while but it seems Jesus meant it for today. I took it to lunch with girlfriends several weeks back; it is a perfect take-to-friends meal. It’s also so easy that you can keep ingredients on hand and whip it up for unexpected guests. Or, you know, those harried weeknights when the day has more than gotten out of hand and you need a quicker-than-quick family meal. Yeah, we’ve had a few of those, too.

Tomato, Black Bean & Corn Soup

1 container Trader Joe’s tomato and red pepper soup
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c cooked brown rice (TJ’s brown basmati is my fav)
½ jar TJ’s corn & chile salsa (or 1 c roasted corn)
Chili powder, to taste
Ground coriander, to taste
Ground cumin, to taste
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Empty TJ’s prepared soup into a stock pot. Add remainder of ingredients. Heat through and serve. The soup tastes even better if you heat, turn off heat and let sit, and then reheat just before serving. If you’ll be serving littles, the roasted corn might be the way to go as the salsa has a definite kick, but then you’ll want to up the spices a notch for good flavor. You could also try less corn salsa + some roasted corn.

TJs tomato soup

Easy (mostly) Trader Joe’s ingredients to keep on hand for when you need them

Soup might not change the world, but it can sure change someone’s day. With soup, you can offer warmth and hearty goodness and love – your love and God’s.

Oh, and you might as well go ahead and double the recipe from the get-go. Yes, it’s that good.