January 18, 2012

Kitchen Sink Tomato Soup and Tuna Cheddar Quesadillas

It is only Tuesday night and I'm already wishing it was Friday!  I'm not sure why but I've just been dragging like crazy and been somewhat out of sorts.  Maybe it is because winter finally decided to come to the coast and all the wonderful snow has been replaced by muddy slush.  Or maybe it is the damp grayness that is everywhere.  Or maybe I'm just having one of those weeks.  Whatever the case, I was in serious need of some comfort last night and I knew exactly how to make that happen.  A bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  Only problem was, all I had of that combination was cheese and I had absolutely no energy to dig through my change and head to the store for a can of tomato soup and a loaf of bread.  Good thing I did have enough energy to put on cozy sweats and thick socks and throw together a healthy and delicious tomato soup from what I had left in my empty fridge (and I only opened one can!).

I could have gone the easy route and just mixed water, milk and tomato paste together with a dash of onion powder and pepper, but I knew that would have made me feel like I cheated myself out of dinner.  Besides, I had a carrot and some celery that needed to be eaten.  I knew I was going to make tomato soup before I left work and mentioned my intentions to a couple people who asked "What? No meat?" to which I had to respond, "Well, I don't have any thawed so I was going to open a can of tuna to make a sandwich out of on the side..." My response was met with a ball jar of caught and freshly canned tuna, which I was assured (I had a concerned look on my face apparently) would taste much better then it looks: "It looks the same in the can, you just don't see it."

At home I gather all my ingredients together and figure out a plan of action.  I am not a big tomato person so I rarely have fresh tomatoes on hand, but tonight that is OK, I'll use a can of diced tomatoes which will simplify things by eliminating the tomato-skin peeling step.  I only have about 1/3 cup of chicken broth left so I will have to use water for the remaining liquid and I am also out of fresh herbs but I do have quite the arsenal of dried herbs and spices.  Maybe I should look into starting a little herb garden this weekend...

Focus!  OK I have all my ingredients ready to go and I start the process by chopping up the rest of my onion, carrot and celery.  I toss the onion in with some vegetable oil and minced garlic.  Once the onion and garlic are fragrant I add the celery and carrot and allow them to cook gently until tender.

Once the carrots are tender I add the chicken broth I have left (about 1/3 cup) and scrape off/dissolve all the brown stuff (aka fond see How to Make a Quick Pan Sauce... for a full explanation). I let that simmer for about 2 minutes and then add about a cup of water to the mix along with some black pepper, thyme, oregano , a healthy splash of Worcestershire and a dash of Tapatio hot sauce.  Lid goes on and I let my concoction simmer gently for about 20 minutes while I watch Ink Master (which is a reality competition about tattoo artists which I find incredibly silly, I would never agree to be tattooed by someone under stressful time constraints!) and trace some pillow patterns.  

After 15 minutes I am getting seriously hungry.  The kind of hungry where you want to open a bag of chips to keep your stomach from rumbling and scaring the cat.  I am trying hard to cut snacking out of my daily routine so I check on the soup.  The liquid consistency looks good, but the carrots are not cooked as much as I would like them to be, so I start thinking of Plan B - how can I rush this soup and still make it taste good?  

I pull down my blender and carefully spoon the soup into it.  I am a little gun shy about hot/warm liquids in a blender ever since a horrible Butternut Squash Soup indecent about 4 years ago.  The recipe called for a dark beer to be slowly mixed (by blender) into the hot soup.  It wasn't a problem until I started to blend the soup and found out I had a faulty lid on my blender which allowed the hot soup to explode spectacularly all over me and my kitchen.  Needless to say there was a trip to the hospital for burn ointment and the beer was consumed solo and I never used a blender since... until tonight.

I got the blender so I could make cold creations but decided to bite the bullet and get over my fear.  I have to admit though, my hands were slightly shaky as I started the blender up.  I had it on puree and everything went smoothly without searing hot soup raining from my ceiling.  Getting more confident I upped the setting to liquefy and let that go until the chunks were almost all gone but the soup was still thick.

I poured the mixture back into the pan with about 1/4 cup of cream and put the burner on low to keep the soup warm while I turned my attention to making my tuna cheddar quesadillas.  These are easy  to do.  Corn tortillas on the griddle with a mix of cheddar and jack cheese layered with dry tuna.  I wanted to add cilantro, but was all out... added cilantro to my shopping list...

Everything smells so good!  I am ready to eat and settle down with a nice big glass of milk, my soup and quesadillas and relax.  The soup is hearty with a nice bright carrot/tomato flavor to it and is rounded out with the tangy Worcestershire and spicy Tapatio.  Although this is a basic dinner, everything works well together and in the end I'm satisfied and warmed from the inside out.  There is nothing like a hot bowl of soup to warm the soul and bring a little sunshine to an otherwise grey day.

I have about half the soup left so I'll be enjoying that tonight with some crispy chicken or a green salad.  Next time I will let the soup cook for a full half-hour to really soften the carrots and while I will still blend it, I'll leave it more chunky and reduce it down a bit more at the end.  All in all, a very nice dinner. :)


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. Looks like you're just getting into the blogosphere. As for the eggs in purgatory, I've not tried them, but will if I can remember the next time I have some pasta sauce in the fridge.

  2. What a perfect lunch... The soup looks especially tasty.