Category Archives: Soup

Ugly Tomato Soup

I’m sure they all have good personalities…

You know the type…Always got picked last for everything, look beat up and bruised all of the time, didn’t quite grow up as quick as everyone else, maybe they’re even a little dirty….Well, ugly tomatoes have personalities too. They are good on the inside and just need a chance. Here is your opportunity to make some new friends that can bring plenty of flavor to the party, we all just need to have an open mind. When picking out your ugly tomatoes, you should look for the ones that still have some hope and haven’t gone off the deep end, because therapy is useless for tomatoes. You can, however, dress them up a little so they fit in with the crowd. “How can I dress up an ugly tomato” you might ask? Make soup.

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds of ugly tomatoes
  • 1 pound carrots roughly chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion roughly chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 Cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 Cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (use smoked paprika if you don’t like the heat)
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf 

Method:

You’ll grind it all up later.

Roughly chop up the onion and carrot. Cut the tomatoes across their equator, squeeze out the seeds and cut the halves into quarters. Melt the butter in a large stock pot (7 quart) over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions and salt and saute for 10 minutes – or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add the garlic, cook for 1 minute stirring constantly and add the tomatoes. Put the lid on and let them stew for 5 minutes stirring things up a couple of times. Add the chicken broth, basil, pepper, balsamic vinegar, molasses and chipotle. Turn heat up to high to get everything boiling and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 30 minutes.

Cutting “Equatorially”

Now, here we have some options….I personally put everything in a food processor and then pass it through a sieve to make a silky smooth soup OR you can use an immersion blender OR you can use a bar blender and sieve, or not. It all depends on how you like your tomato soup. After you have decided what you are going to do, get it back in the big pot, stir in the cream and add a bay leaf. Leave it on low heat for 30 minutes with the lid on to let the flavors come together. I like to top it with croutons made from jalapeno cheddar bread and some finely chopped basil.

Not ugly anymore!


Chili and Football, that’s what Dave does…

Stir it up!

The summer is coming to a close, vacations are over and it is now game time! I may not know every player’s name, who won last week, or the ridiculous stats of how many touchdowns the combined Manning brothers have, but I do know one thing… It is time to start cooking chili, and the odds are that a big pot will be stewing alongside beers and friends on any given Sunday at my place.

I can already visualize what the shopping cart looks like, colorful peppers, large quantities of meat along with all of the toppings. I’ve been making this chili for so long that I don’t even open up my notes anymore; practice and good ingredients makes perfect.  If you have been to my place to watch football, you have probably had my chili.

So next time you are having people over to watch Da Bears, Eagles or COLTS, start an hour early and get this together. I guarantee it will be gone by the end of the game, and if not, make chili dogs the next day. On second thought, hide some to make chili dogs anyway…

 

Chili with the fixins'

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Shopping list for 1 gallon of chili (about 4 people).
1 Lb Ground beef 80/20 (or if you have a meat grinder coarsely grind 1 lb of  sirloin)
1 Lb Hot breakfast sausage, Tennessee Pride or Jimmy Dean's works great
1 large yellow onion diced
1 of each: green, yellow and red pepper seeded and diced
1 entire small bottle of green Tabasco, the green is milder than the others, NO substitutions
4-5 cloves garlic minced
1 28 oz can of whole/peeled tomatoes, if you can find San Marzanos, use them
2 16 oz cans of dark red kidney beans drained
1 square of "Bakers" brand UNSWEETENED chocolate, once again, NO substitutions
Salt/Pepper
1 Tbl. Good chili powder (go to penzeys.com) blog post on spices coming soon..
2 tsp. cumin
1-11/2 tsp. ground cayenne, depending on how hot you like it
1-3 mystery ingredients no one will ever know (sorry)                                       
Toppings:  Raw diced onion, shredded cheddar, sour cream, pasta, etc.

In a large stock pot brown the beef and sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spatula as it cooks (add a little vegetable oil if it is sticking real bad). In the meantime, dice all of your peppers and onion and throw them in the pot as you go. Once meat is browned and the veggies have softened, drain off any excess grease using a colander (do not rinse). Return to pot over medium heat and stir in minced garlic. Once you can smell the garlic add in the Tabasco, tomatoes (juice and all) and the drained beans. Smash the whole tomatoes with your spatula to get that good juice and pulp out and to get everything else all mixed together. Increase heat to a boil for 5 minutes, bury the square of chocolate in the middle, reduce heat to medium-low and put a lid on it. Ignore for 20 minutes and have a beer.

Remove lid, stir everything up and distribute the now melted chocolate. Add all of the spices listed except salt and pepper. Adjust heat if needed to maintain a slow simmer. Put the lid back on, have another beer and get your toppings ready (chop onion, grate cheese, etc.) another 20 minutes.

Remove lid, stir it up and add pepper to suit your heat level. Salt to taste since depending on the sausage you buy and the tomatoes you use it can be different every time however, 2 teaspoons is usually a good starting point.

By this point, you should be almost full from trying the chili every 5 minutes, not to mention the buzz from the beers. Just put out the bowls along with the condiments, leave the pot on the stove over low heat all day long, and let people make their own bowls as they wish.

 
                                                           

No time to cook? Try this.

Yes, it even happens to me. A late day at work or just a lack of inspiration to come up with something new. This is my weeknight go to meal that can be made in about 20 minutes.  Dressing it up with fresh herbs and serving a salad on the side makes this a healthy and easy alternative that anyone can pull off looking like a hero. Coming from a person that makes his own pasta 95% of the time, I don’t have a problem buying the fresh pasta that any major grocer now carries for occasions like these. Your options to pick from are enormous, from meat and cheese ravioli to chicken tortellini, whatever your tastebuds desire.

The easiest dinner ever.

Tortellini Soup: Serves 3-4
1 48oz box of low sodium chicken broth
1 9oz package of fresh store bought tortellini
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
2 Tbl fresh grated parmesan
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
Fresh oregano or basil for garnish

Method:
Bring chicken broth to a boil in a covered pot. Add salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Boil pasta with the lid on according to directions on the packaged pasta, about 6 minutes. The chicken broth will foam up while boiling so turn down the heat to maintain a high simmer and prevent making a mess. Ladle into bowls, top with parmesan and fresh herbs.
Serve with a salad on the side. Take leftovers to work the next day for lunch!


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