Friday, January 4, 2013

Creamy Tomato Parmesan Soup

Boston is cold.

If I haven't lost your attention with that really riveting opening, I'm glad you have decided to continue on this journey. It's going to be warm, and fuzzy, and totally comforting.

Ok, it won't be fuzzy...that would be weird.

Because I'm talking about soup! If you haven't caught on yet, I'm a total soup junkie. Something about building new, unique flavors and creating an inspired pot of hot goodness gets my kitchen gears going.

This week, in the wee hours of my morning commute, my trusty iPhone weather app told me it was 7 degrees, but it felt like -3 degrees. -3!!!

It was right then and there that I decided my body needed some hot nourishment. It needed some sweet tomatoes, salty parmesan, rich butter, and light basil heated through to perfection.

This Creamy Tomato Parmesan Soup is totally elegant and playful. I plated it on a bed of Orzo (rice shaped pasta) and sprinkled each dish with fresh parsley and more parm. Duh.

It starts with the basics: carrots, celery, and a small onion. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper, pop in a bay leaf and let them do their thing.

I want to be more honest in 2013. So I have a confession to make. I HATE carrots. Raw carrots, cooked carrots, those little carrot shavings in bags of salad. YUCK!! But they are OK if they are SUPER soft, swimming in tasty broths.  So I cooked my veggies for much longer, as I wanted them as soft and negligible as possible.

Also, isn't this new notebook from my friend, Maria, the cutest? It's personalized for my recipe notes. Love it!

Soup. Right.

The liquids go in. 2 cans diced tomatoes with their juices and some chicken broth (would probably also be OK with vegetable broth, but the chicken is so light it is always my first choice). Toss in a leftover parmesan rind to enhance that cheesey flavor (optional, if you have it on hand).

Simmer away, simmer away.

Create a rue. That is, butter and flour whisked vigorously. Add it to the soup--thick and creamy!

Melt in a whole cup of parmesan cheese, along with some warmed skim milk. Add some dried italian herbs. Swoon at the delectible fragrance.

This is a fairly rich soup, although not a total calorie monster. If you're feeling like a naughty boy or girl, cook up a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches. Dunk away....I won't tell!

Here's what you need for Creamy Tomato Parmesan Soup:

2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced fine
1 bay leaf
2-14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (not drained)
4 cups chicken broth
1 parmesan rind
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cups warmed non-fat milk (or half and half)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh pasley
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large soup or stock pot over medium. Add the carrots, celery, and onions, coating completely in the olive oil. Generously season with salt and pepper, top with a bay leaf, and cover the pot. Allow the vegetables to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Add the 2 cans of diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occassionally.

In a large skillet, melt 1 stick of butter over low heat. Add in the flour and whisk constantly for 5 minutes until thickened. Add one large ladle of the hot soup and stir vigorously to combine. The rue will start to get VERY thick, and this is exactly what we want. Add 2 more ladles of soup and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir the rue back into the soup pot.

Add the parmesan cheese, dried oregano and basil. In a slow stream, stir in the warmed milk. Season generously with salt and pepper. You may feel like you are over-seasoning, but there is a lot of soup in this pot. You may even want to up the amount of basil to let the flavor come through.

Simmer until ready to serve. Top with more grated cheese and fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!

This soup is wonderfully nutty and rich, but also light and fragrant. The sweet and tangy bite of the tomatoes holds up well again the rich, buttery broth. You will definitely want to try this out to help you beat those blistery nights!

Note: Recipe adapted from 365 Days of Slow Cooking. Could not locate link to original post.

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