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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Teddy's Tomato-Veggie Soup Madness

Let us call this one - Teddy's Veggie Soup Madness

I did not plan on this being my first recipe here. I wanted to impress all of you with my wonders in the kitchen.

But since this took place Friday - I hope this kind of gives those who are scared of the kitchen and come across this recipe and why it happened an idea of what to do.

There will be a great more posts from me about some of the topics here, but let us begin.

The Story Behind This Recipe

First of all please understand this recipe is to teach you how to make due even when you do not have all the ingredients. Even when you cannot find what you really want. It is being inventive and also being realistic. It is a mixture of things - and that is why I am telling this story in detail. As parents, if we cook, it is critical that we are inventive - often in ways no cook book will ever tell you to do. Know why? Cause this is REAL LIFE.

Sabbath in a Jewish home is often the time for large family meals, which means moi has to do the cooking! It also means we usually prepare between two and three meals. One for Friday night, and two for Sabbath. Now traditional Jews do not cook, use fire or use electricity on the Sabbath which basically means we must prepare everything beforehand. (I will explain this in forthcoming posts.)

Anyway, Friday I woke with not a headache, not a huge headache but a gargantuan monster of a headache. I have no idea if it is because I might have caught a bug or due to the weather one day being warm and the next cold and rainy - kills my sinus. Now I had to do some shopping but I never have patience to stand on the Friday lines at the supermarkets. (Remember most stores close here before the Sabbath so Friday is horrible in the supermarket). And I wanted to make tomato soup for the kids cause that is what they ordered! So I went to the nearby small grocery store and the vegetable store next door - head pounding - and of course could not find enough nice tomato's to make a good soup.
  1. Making soup is usually fairly easy if you have some patience and some idea of what you want.
  2. You need time to let the soup simmer (depends on the soup)
  3. You do not need to create an artists rendition - but it needs to be tasty to the pallet of those who are going to eat it.
  4. Soups are not as difficult as they sound but patience and normative combinations are the key.
  5. You need ingenuity and some inventiveness - and not to worry so much about the "professionalism" of your master creation.
  6. You know what is truly great about soup recipes? Let us say below you don't like mushrooms. Guess what? Don't use them. Forget 'em. Leave them out. Nothing here is written in stone. Nothing is a MUST - except for the water!
So here is what I did. I mentally accessed what veggies I did have in the house (and I am senile so I always forget anyway and with my headache is was NOT easy). Since I am a royal PITA and stubborn I was still going to make tomato based soup even if it killed me and my kids in the process.

In the house I had:
  1. Fresh Onions
  2. Fresh Garlic
  3. Fresh Basil
  4. Parsley
  5. Fresh Oregano
  6. Small Fresh Mushrooms (not canned by fresh)
As you can tell I really believe in FRESH spices when I can get them and not the bottled stuff. However all the above (except for the mushrooms) you can get as Onion salt, Garlic salt, Basil, Parsley, Oregano in the spice bottles in any Supermarket. (And I have them as well and keep them around for the moments when I have no fresh substitute.) You can also get canned mushrooms as well. Additionally, the fresh spices were really almost on their way out (and I hate throwing away food - I hate it!). But actually with Basil and Oregano the taste is a bit more tangy if you let them sit a couple of days in the fridge.

In the grocery story I bought Tomato Paste (not the thick stuff which I do not like) but with chunks of tomato's in it. (The only thing I miss about the Supermarket is all those really cute and pretty ladies whom I never have the courage to talk to anyway!)

I also bought 3 packets of instant tomato soup. Not the kind that is really instant but the kind that comes in those packets that must be heated for like 10 minutes or so. Each packet contains 117 gram of the soup and is marked for four servings. Now I am not a "chemical" freak and Lord only knows those soups are packed with chemicals - BUT they work in a pinch.

I bought three because the pot I was going to use to make soup, one of my favorite pots, is 8 Liters which is approximately 2 gallons. Since it would three-quarters full, I was headed to making 1.5 gallons or 6 liters of soup.

(BTW - If you were using good tomatoes here - then 8-10 medium sized tomatoes would do.)

Why so much soup? Easy a couple of reasons.
  1. I am one of those Jewish "mothers" who always make more than I need. On Sabbath you never know who is going to drop by. You never know if you are going to have one or two or five guests. So I always overcook.
  2. Soup is great to have in the fridge. It lasts a few days and is fantastic for those cold days. It is also a great way to keep me out of the kitchen on those nights when no one is around and I don't have to make anything (which is heaven indeed). I just take out the soup, either heat it on the gas flame or nuke a bowl in the microwave - and I have my meal.
So keep all this mind if you try this recipe. This is for a BIG POT of soup and thus the helpings in here are just for that. Less soup, less spices. Use your instincts and eye.

With my head pounding cause I still had to make a favorite of my children, Macaroni and Cheese (and that recipe you are going to get..and trust me it is easy BUT really good and not the junk you buy usually) and a Roast for Saturday.

Now here is where it gets a bit complicated for the newbies. There are two types of cooks. One who measures out everything exactly and one who works on instinct, especially with spices, on just how much to put in. Since I work on instinct I am going to try and give you exact measurements and since this is a fairly large pot keep that in mind when you try this.

Remember that the trick here was to actually use up the spices and things I already had. I was not looking at any pre-supplied recipe. The actual things that I had to know was:

Fill the pot up three quarters with water.
  1. Cut up three or four big onions, (not into really itty-bitty small pieces but cut them fairly well). If your onions are medium or small then add as you see fit. If you don't like onions don't use them! If you hate cutting use a hand or machine dicer. (I don't mind crying in the kitchen cause if someone comes in I can always make up a really good sob story and get some pity.) - Dump them in the pot.
  2. If your mushrooms are small and fresh there is really no need to cut them up. Just wash them and dump them in the pot. If they are medium or large cut them into halves or quarters. - Go ahead dump them in.
  3. Crush one tablespoon of Basil - dump that in.
  4. Crush one tablespoon of Oregano and dump that in.
  5. Take the Parsley stalks in your hand form a fist around the stalks and run your hand over it. You should now have a fistful of parsley leaves. (How is that for scientific?) Okay if you want exact do the tablespoon routine as well here. By the way, I wash off the Parsley and break it in half and put it all in (stalks and all). When you serve the soup just make sure you dish it out without the greens as all this is for taste.
  6. Now to the fresh garlic. A garlic as you know is made up of cloves (or I hope you know it.) There is kind of a health argument that says a lot of the healthy stuff in garlic comes from the thin skin on top of the cloves. Sometimes you can get away with this sometimes not. In soup it is not a good idea to just throw in the cloves with the skin, even if they will get soft while the soup simmers. So here is what an inexperienced chef like me does. Take the Garlic and put it on a cutting board. Take a sharp knife (watch out for your fingers - and don't entertain the thought that cutting a finger will not happen to you...I am living proof of the fallacy of that supposition). Now cut the garlic down the middle and the cloves will now be fairly easy to tear off. Okay, but each garlic clove has a hard top and bottom. So these you are going to have to cut off, one at a time, and then just peel away the skin. Your hands are going to feel sticky from the garlic. Takes time but garlic is worth the time. Dump those cloves in the soup.
  7. Okay now we get to some secrets of the kitchen and soups. The following are two spices you may not have and may have to look for - but are well worth to keep in the house in those bottles. The first is some Turmeric (in Hebrew called "Carcom"). Carcom (dark orange) is great in any soup (especially meat soups we will do later). But you must be careful. In an 8 liter pot, three-quarters full I would put in a tablespoon if you are not used to it. NO MORE.
  8. Next is a spice that I have sought out its English name all over the net to no avail. It is called Chawwaj. I assume its roots are in the Arab world and the Yemenites and/or Moroccans brought it over to Israel. This is also a tangy spice used in soups and coffee. If you can get it - it is great to add a tablespoon as well. (If anyone reading this knows the name in English - please leave a comment here for everyone!)
  9. Okay now to White or Black Pepper - teaspoon folks unless you like the soup real hot. Your choice between the ground peppers. I use white in soups.
  10. Salt - Here I am going to say something really not professional. I put just a tablespoon of salt in for cooking. My philosophy on this is simple. Too much salt ruins it for all. Too little - there is always a saltshaker. So I avoid salt in cooking whenever I can.
  11. And finally - while rummaging through my spice drawer I found a bottle of "hot dried tomatoes" - guess what? Tablespoon of those went in as well.
Okay let us recap:
  1. 3-4 Large Fresh Onions
  2. 1 Whole Fresh Garlic
  3. Fresh Basil
  4. Parsley
  5. Fresh Oregano
  6. Small Fresh Mushrooms (not canned by fresh)
  7. One can or jar of loose tomato paste with chunks of tomatoes.
  8. Three packets (117 gram) of tomato soup - each makes up to 4 servings.
  9. Tumeric (Carcom)
  10. Chawwaj
  11. Dried Hot Tomatoes
  12. Pepper
  13. Salt
  14. One 8 Liter Pot - Three-quarters full of water
  15. A lot of prayer and hope and crossing fingers
Cooking the Soup & Simmering

Plan on at the very least two hours! First take that momma of a pot and put it on a medium sized flame. Take out a big ladle or spoon and stir it for a minute. Close the pot. WALK AWAY. In 10 minutes check it to see if it is boiling and keep on checking every 5 minutes or so until the soup is boiling. (Don't forget to check - moi has done this a million times and was left with burned pot!) Now once that soup boils turn down the flame stir it again for a minute, and let it simmer and simmer and simmer. Every 30 minutes go in and check it and stir it. Don't stand over it. Don't worry about it. Just don't forget it cause you are on the phone or in your favorite chat program!
Around 75 minutes after you began cooking it, turn up the flame and let it reach a boil again. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes, and turn down the flame and let it simmer again.

After around 90-120 minutes check it with your pallet. You should be tasting tomato - veggie soup. You can let that pot simmer until you are ready to serve it.

If you are making this for the morrow, then after 2 hours or so, turn off the flame, and let the soup cool down for at least 30-45 minutes before putting it in the fridge. Make sure you leave the top on the pot while it is in the fridge!

Remember - there is so much in here you can add or subtract as you like. You can even do this with just pure tomatoes (I will give the recipe for a pure tomato soup in the future.)

Voila - Real life. Real Kids. Real Soup. Teddy's Tomato-Veggie Soup Madness
(and all done with a headache!)

Actually this is really really easy to do. Takes around 15 minutes start to soup on flame. Go ahead try it!

(Oh before I forget. Everyone had second helpings of the soup. So there!!!!)

Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen - 2 Stars - Easy to make and prepare. Not a great deal of work. Needs just ingredients so a bit of planning is in order.

Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen
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2 Fire Comments - Click To Post A Comment:

Anonymous said...

Saffron and turmeric are not the same spice but according to your post it is the same Hebrew word? Corcom? Are you sure?


Your Corona Story said...

You are 100000% right. Wow what a mistake on my part!

I was frazzled when I did that recipe. Must have been. Carcom is Turmeric. I have no clue why I put Saffron in there. But re-edited the recipe to read correctly (I hope!)

Thanks for pointing it out!