Keepin’ Warm in the Winter

Over my winter break, about a month ago, I made a lot of food to get me through the remaining winter months.  Also, I wanted to use my Christmas gift from Brandon, which you’ll see later in this post. One of the soups I crave during the winter months is cream of tomato.  I have tested several recipes over the years with the tomatoes I grow every summer. The most flavorful recipe I found was Ina Garten’s Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup from her Back to Basics cookbook.  An added bonus: It is good for you too!

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Materials:

  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil (I only used 2)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves) (I added 4-5)
  • 4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (…bought mine)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream(I used fat free half & half)
  • Croutons, for garnish(Try making your own! Day old bread cut into cubes tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown)

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Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta

I had a lot of fresh cherry tomatoes from my garden and a container of fresh mozzarella.  I wanted to make a pasta that I could have for lunches throughout the week.  It is very similar to the sauce I made with the banana peppers, but this one I didn’t blend.  I’ve seen Giada DeLaurentiis make a pasta similar to this on the food network with the fresh cheese, and it looked delicious. I don’t know what her recipe was, but I did what I felt tasted right.

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Fresh From the Garden Pasta

This is a VERY easy pasta to create with veggies you might have laying around. I happened to have several banana peppers and cherry/grape tomatoes from the garden that needed to be used. Also, my basil is getting close to three feet high, so fresh herbs were needed. You can always use dried if you do not have fresh, but fresh always tastes better (especially when you want to do a quick sauce). I never have time to let sauce simmer all day long. To be honest, I don’t always plan ahead. Besides being versatile, short cooking time is what makes this sauce so nice. I’m guessing on the measurements because I usually cook to taste. So, remember to taste often to see if you need to add more herbs or seasoning.

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