I have a gripe. Here it is: We in the US are a nation of star chef worshipers and Food TV competition aficionados. We read and debate diets (paleo, gluten-free, vegan, etc). We read beautiful magazines with food porn-ish photos, and follow on social media. But what are we doing in our kitchens? Not much, apparently. I have (just today!) decided to embark on a project intended to encourage and guide you, the timid or novice would-be cook, to use your kitchen and make yourself some nice meals. Actually, I have tinkered with the notion of writing a cookbook called, yup, Simply Cook. But that name is taken by a website. So I am starting here. Blogging.
I generally cook by the seasons and encourage you to do so. Here’s why: (1) It’s easier. I enjoy shopping at farmers markets and when kale is in that’s a good time to buy it and cook with it. (2) It tastes better. Tomatoes are only good in tomato season. I love a good tomato. But only in peak summer season. (3) It makes your cooking better. Fresh vegetables in season (rather than shipped to the east coast from CA, or Chile) taste better. You have to do much less to make the dish taste delicious when you have started with delicious, fresh vegetables. (4) Cooking in season actually helps you eat what you feel like eating then anyway. For example: cucumbers in salad with tomatoes are delicious in summer. I don’t want them in winter. In winter I want a hearty braised stew or warming soup. See? So here’s today’s recipe for a winter eve.
3 c. vegetable stock
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
1 can (28 oz) of whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano or other Italian)
1 c. cream or half-and-half
Optional: fresh thyme sprigs (not a lot – about ½ t worth if you pulled them off the stem)
- Put 2 T olive (or other) oil in heavy-bottomed soup pan and turn on heat to medium. Add onion and carrot, S&P, stir and sauté for about 5 minutes until onion is cooked but not brown. (You don’t want uncooked onion because it won’t continue cooking much in the tomatoes later.)
- Add canned tomatoes (without bothering to break them up) and thyme if using. Leave at medium heat until tomatoes bubble, stirring often with a wooden spoon, and breaking up the tomatoes a bit each time you stir.
- After about 10-15 minutes when tomatoes look like they are breaking down a bit, add warmed stock and stir. Add in cream.
- Run your soup through a food mill, or puree carefully in blender, or stick a stick blender into the pot. Taste for S&P.
- Serve as is or with croutons. Bon Appetit!