Certain dishes are like going home. They're the ones that wrap you up in a big, warm hug after a long day. They're the ones that take you back to cooking alongside your grandmother, or whoever did the cooking in your house. They can be pick-me-ups, cool-me-downs, and maybe even take-me-backs. They're pure comfort masquerading as food.
I've been waiting on this post for several days now. I've been far removed from cooking, writing, and, in general, communing with the food world I so often refer to as my therapy. Two months ago, I started a fantastic and exciting journey. I took the reigns of a morning newscast, learned how to get up every morning at 1:15 a.m., and I learned a lot about myself in the process.
I discovered I had resolve. I uncovered a creativity I had forgotten I had. I learned that old dogs can learn new tricks, and more importantly, they definitely should. Change, for better or worse, in the end, makes us all a little more open to the world. I made new friends, learned from new colleagues, and encountered challenges I had not yet stumbled across. And yes, I learned I could live, and be happy on (a lot) less sleep.
I learned home is where you make it.
So, now I embark on another journey, back to where I started, but with new challenges. You see, I've been charged (promoted) with taking the reigns of my old friend, the night news. Instead of hearing the alarm at 1:15am, instead, that's when I'll be crawling into bed alongside a loving husband, and two snoring pugs once more.
It's a bit like going home, but missing the new and exciting adventure you've been living thus far. I'm excited to again be with old friends, but certainly will miss the new ones. This however, is a new adventure in an old place. I've learned an immense amount to bring back to the table at which I once sat. It also brings me back to food and my writing, something I hadn't quite been able to figure in as of late.
But again, home is where you make it, and no one said it has to be in only one place. If you miss it, make one of those dishes I was talking about, like this tomato soup, and you'll be right back there.
Fresh Tomato Soup
Adapted from: Ina Garten
If you still have the last of your garden tomatoes, or if they're still all over your local market, this is a perfect use of them. I used black, beefsteak, heirloom, and orange tomatoes in this soup. It's forgiving, use whatever you'd like. Pair it with a grilled cheese, and smile from ear to ear. Note: if you don't have a food mill, simply peel and seed all the vegetables below before cooking, and puree in a blender or food processor in batches at the end.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onions (about 2 onions)
- 2 carrots, unpeeled, and chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 4 pounds ripe tomatoes, any variety, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup milk
- Parmesan cheese (for serving)
- Heat your olive oil in a large pot, I use a dutch oven, over medium-low heat.
- Add your onions and carrots to the pot, and cook until tender.
- Next, add your garlic and cook for about a minute.
- Now, dump in your tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir.
- Bring the soup to a boil, and then down to a simmer, and simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes until tomatoes are tender.
- Finally, add your milk to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, throwing away the pulp left behind.
- Reheat the soup in your large pot and serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.