In Colorado we always have our first snow around Halloween; it's like a seasonal clock on which I've come to rely. It snows on Halloween and then the holiday season begins. But here it was mid-November, sunny and warm with not a trace of winter in sight. It's hard to come up with a Thanksgiving Day menu when the sun is blazing and it's 70 degrees outside. But this past weekend the weather started to change. The west wind blew down from the mountains, driving thousands of tumbleweed across the freeway to be pummeled into dust by passing cars. The snow arrived early the next morning. By the time I was shooing the kids out the door, and quickly packing their school bags in the car, Winter was in full swing, the snow blowing horizontally through the thin air like a barrage of needles that cut us to the bone. The road was covered with a thick sheet of ice. The drive was treacherous.
The next morning I let the kids sleep in. The storm had raged throughout the night and schools were canceled across the city.
Of course, as soon at they awoke, out came the coats, mittens, hats, and scarves. Then we dug out the snow pants, buried in the closet since last year. I watched, from the kitchen window, as they threw handfuls of the fine, crystalline snow high into the air, creating their own personal blizzards. They piled mountains of snow on the grass, the walls of a snow fort, I later discovered. And soon a procession of snow angels marched across the back lawn. I smiled, knowing that Winter was here and I could finally get to work on my holiday plans.
Remember that old Campbell's Soup commercial? The one where the boy plays outside in the snow for so long he turns into a snowman? My kids were quickly turning into snowmen, themselves. I knew that they'd need something warm to eat when they came inside. Something to melt the icicles that were clinging to the edges of their hats and scarves. So I got to work in the kitchen. Is there a more appropriate lunch on a snowy winter's day than tomato soup and grilled cheese?
I made a big batch of simple, old fashioned creamy tomato soup and kept it warm on the stove. It's a classic, made with staples that I always keep in my fridge and pantry. Onions, garlic, celery, canned tomatoes (BPA-free, of course), chicken broth, basil, and just a touch of sugar. When choosing your tomatoes, it's essential that you look for those in BPA-free packaging. Pomì tomatoes are sold in boxes, Muir Glen organic tomatoes come in BPA-free cans, and Eden Organic are sold in glass jars. The soup is finish it with a heavy dose of velvety cream. Naturally, I served it with a few triangles of grilled cheese, and also some hearty Genoa salami and a few blue cheese stuffed olives, leftover from a dinner party a week ago. So simple! It was the quintessential lunch for a cold winter's day, and afterwards I was finally inspired to get to work on my Thanksgiving plans. Winter has arrived.
Old Fashioned Creamy Tomato Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, diced
1 large stalk of organic celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
14.5 oz. of diced tomatoes (BPA-free)
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft. Don't let the vegetables brown. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the chicken broth, and the sugar and basil. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover. Cook 10 minutes. Carefully blend the soup to a smooth consistency with a blender or run it through the fine blade of a food mill. Pour it back into the pot and stir in the cream. Place it back on the stove and gently heat through. Serves 2 - 4
Here are a few more soups to warm your soul this winter:
- Pumpkin and Black Bean Minestrone
- Roasted Beet and Apple Soup
- Creamy Broccoli and Leek Soup
- Carrot-Parsnip Soup
- Tortilla Soup
- Roasted Red Pepper Soup