Fresh’n’Sweet Tomato Soup

When you were little, did you have a favorite soup? How about now? When I was little, my favorite lunch was tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, and this is still the favorite lunch of my youngest son’s lifelong buddy (who’s now an adult). Also, on our recent cruise of the North Sea, we were served tomato soup several times and discovered that it’s popular not only aboard ships but on land as well…from Iceland to India. Therefore, I believe it’s an international, inter-generational classic!Alan and I have enjoyed many iterations of tomato soup, such as this unusual bowl of tomato soup with spinach and pasta. Tomato basil soup has become quite popular with hipsters and in upscale restaurants. My “Little Sister, Liz” made some from scratch last time I visited her in Washington D.C. , and it was outstanding!However, I think possibly the best tomato soup I’ve ever tasted was served at Friðheimar, a restaurant near Selfoss, Iceland, while Alan and I were on the  “Golden Circle Tour.” It was basically super fresh and creamy, with a swirl of yogurt and a sprinkling of parsley on top. Of course, I don’t know exactly what ingredients go into fabulous dishes, but I can usually come pretty close, so I want to share what I dreamed up, inspired by mulling over the delectable tastes and smells of that wonderful meal and dedicated to the memory of Iceland. If you’re the chef at Friðheimar and find this recipe, please feel free to share “the real” recipe with us. I looked online trying to find your recipe, but all I found were reviews that said things like, “the best fresh tomato soup I’ve ever tasted,” “we just instantly fell in love with the sweet’n’fresh tomato soup,” “simple but so tasty,” “amazing soup,” “gorgeous soup,” etc. That’s just the way we felt too! So, I tried, but mine is not as amazing as my memory of Friðheimar’s. Maybe I’ll write and ask him if he’ll share his recipe. Meanwhile, here’s a bright, healthy soup to warm you up on a chilly autumn day.

Fresh’n’Sweet Tomato Soup

In a large stock pot, combine:
2 tablespoons butter (turn on heat and melt), then add
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I only used half of the one above)
1 garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon pressed garlic; I just used 1 clove of this bulb)
1/2  teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon (your favorite; mine is Lawry’s) seasoning salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute until the onions start to brown. Then add:
2 tablespoons flour; stir until absorbed into the juices before adding:4 large tomatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon crushed basil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups of water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes=2 tablespoons of chicken bouillon powder) Simmer for 30 minutes on medium heat.  Let it rest 15 minutes, then run it through a food mill or use a blender or immersion blender to puree. At this point, I believe Friðheimar must have run the puree through a strainer to remove skins and seeds, but I tend to think all sources of healthy fiber are good for  you, so I didn’t. Suit yourself on this one.Next, taste it, and possibly add more salt and pepper per your personal taste.
Just before serving, reheat to make it piping hot, and serve with some swirls of yogurt and sprinkles of parsley (fresh or crushed).

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
than a stalled ox and hatred therewith
” (Proverbs 15:17).

P.S.—In the picture above, I had stirred extra yogurt into the soup (trying to match the color I remembered and add protein), but it wasn’t as yummy with the yogurt as without, so I left it out of the recipe above. Tomato soup is very light, however, so it’s good to combine it with something like fruit and fresh bread with cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich so you don’t end up hungry in an hour! 🙂  )

 

 

What Can You Feed Poor Knights?

With lots of little mouths to feed this month, I decided the best option would be to make a list of all the things my grandchildren liked best to eat, so one morning I asked them to name their favorite foods. Sophie (3) said, “Fudge!” Other items included chocolate chip cookies, salami, corn on the cob, cake, and rice, etc. After they ran out of ideas, I started asking my two little granddaughters if they liked certain foods. When we  got to breakfast foods, they said they liked pancakes and waffles, but they were totally baffled when I asked if they liked French toast, which surprised me, so I asked their mother (who is European). She asked what it was, and when I explained it to her, she said, “Oh, yes! The children do like it, but we call it ‘Poor Knights’.” After a quick Google search, we learned that the recipe goes back to the 4-5th century, and it sounds like the name refers to something knights would eat when they had little else available. However, in modern times, Poor Knights (aka/french toast) is considered a treat —at least it is at our home—although I do often use it as a way of brightening up bread that is starting to loose its freshness. I suppose everybody who grew up in America knows how to make it, but just in case you’re from a country where it’s not on the menu, here’s the recipe:

Warm and Wonderful French Toast

Start with bread. It can be bread that’s been sitting around for a few days and is starting to dry out (although if I notice that happening, I store it in the refrigerator to keep it from molding). Prepare a mix of 1 egg whipped with 1/4 cup of milk for each 2 slices of bread.  (Most children eat one, and most adults eat two, but you know your family best.)Sprinkle the surface with cinnamon, dip in the bread slices, letting them soak for a few seconds on both sides, and then fry in butter (or oil, bacon fat, or whatever). Cinnamon isn’t necessary, but it really does enhance the flavor. Fry them until they’re golden brown on both sides, and serve them up with syrup. I suppose the poor knights of old didn’t have any meat to go with them, but a bit of meat on the side is always a yummy addition, although bread with milk and eggs is a perfectly nutritious meal!

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
than a stalled ox and hatred therewith”
(Proverbs 15:17).

Savory Cream of Mushroom Soup

After a fabulous buffet one night at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando (where Alan’s conference was held), Alan and I both agreed that our very favorite dish had been the creamy mushroom soup. “Shocking!” I thought to myself. How could something so simple be so delectable?  Well, after talking to the waiter, doing a little online research, and experimenting a bit, I’ve come up with a recipe that Alan and I think is at least a worthy competitor. Here it is:

Savory Cream of Mushroom Soup
(serves 2-4)

2 T. (Tablespoon) butter (Melt in an iron skillet.)
1 chopped onion (Choose your size depending on your love of onions.)
1 T. fresh garlic (or dried; saute with onions until starting to caramelize.)12 oz. sliced mushrooms (any type you prefer; saute until starting to brown.)
3 cups water
1 T. chicken bouillon powder
1 T. rosemary (fresh or crushed)
1/4 teaspoon basil
Pepper to taste
1 bay leaf  (Add all ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.)3 T. flour (easiest if whisked together with cream first; I failed!)
1 cup light cream (Heat entire mixture until it’s simmering but not boiling.)                             Serve immediately, while it’s still piping hot.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” (Proverbs 15:17, NKJV)

Perfect Kale Chips Every Time

roasted-kaleFor a nutrient-rich snack to replace potato chips with only half the calories and oodles of vitamins (A,K,C, B6) and minerals—and even a little protein thrown in for good measure, try baking kale chips. They’re actually a lot tastier than they look! If you haven’t already discovered this simple treat, here’s how:kale-chips

  1. Wash, take out the stems, and break into bite sized pieces
  2. Coat very lightly with olive oil and spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer. (A heavy coat=soggy chips 😦  )
  3. Sprinkle with seasoning salt and pepper (or your favoring flavorings)
  4. Pop in a preheated, 300°F oven for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for another 10 minutes at 275°F. I think the real secret is in then turning off the oven and leaving the kale to dry additionally until you’re ready to serve. This also keeps the chips warm.
  5. Enjoy right from the pan! (They’re very fragile.) For whatever reason, we never have any left over!     🙂roasting-kaleBetter is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Proverbs 15:17).

Simple Pleasures: Eating Together

Fudge for dinner“When you’re a dentist, you can have fudge for the main course too if you want,” Daniel responded with a perfectly straight face to 5-year-old Reid’s accusation that his Uncle Dan wasn’t eating responsibly. Choosing what to eatDaniel had been a few minutes late finishing up at his clinic and arrived just after Aaron’s children had all selected what they wanted to eat for dinner. Child selecting foodAaron and Carleen’s kids have excellent taste in food and always eat a wide variety of fruits and veggies with their dinner, so they were flabbergasted to see their uncle walk in and select a big hunk of fudge as his entree. A balanced mealOf course, he ate other good stuff later, but you can bet the kids will never forget the night Uncle Dan ate fudge for dinner!BrothersFrankly, Aaron definitely deserves to have his 4 sons teased after all the teasing Daniel had to endure growing up in a family with 5 crazy brothers. 🙂Sisters! When I was in France a couple of weeks ago, I asked the oldest daughter (who’d recently married) what she missed most about being gone, and without a moment’s hesitation she replied, “I miss all the fun around the dinner table!” Family DinnerYou know, no matter how hectic mealtime is with kids, it’s one of my very favorite times of the day…definitely one of the simple (and best) pleasures in life! Roasting Hotdogs around the campfireIt doesn’t have to be anything fancy, either! Yummy picnicThere’s just something wonderful about being together, sharing food and fun! Enjoying eating togetherAnd, when it comes to mealtime, there’s always lots of prep and clean up…not to mention all the give and take over who’s going to help tend the kidsGrandpa helping by holding grandson while who’s going to hold babies…while who else gets to eat first! Talking to AuntieBesides, there are lots of conversations and opportunities for bonding, The perfectly toasted marshmallowand maybe a little friendly competition from time to time…
like whose marshmallow is the most perfectly toasted, Yummy toasted marshmallow and whose tastes most delicious.
(Deliciousness is definitely in the mouth of the betaster.) Lunchtime with childrenNo matter how simple, I hope you’re able to share many joyous meals
with family and friends this summer! Toasting Marshmallows“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Proverbs 15:17).