Cold and Flu Season
I looked at a map of the United States the other day that had a color schematic of the amount of flu presently found in the country. It looks like the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota haven’t been hit as hard as some parts of the country. I wonder why that is—do we wash our hands more often? Have colder temps that kill the bugs? Don’t get out very much? Frankly I’m no epidemiologist, (I just like saying the word, makes me sound smart.)
Fortunately, my office has only been very mildly hit this year—just a couple of cold viruses and one short duration stomach flu. Knock wood. We did have an office sponsored flu shot, which I’m convinced has kept me healthy these past couple of winters. But if you are home sick, whether you are ten or fifty, I bet you want comfort food (and maybe a comic book or two). My mom would always make us kids Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. I know with some families, it is tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.
I’ll admit to being somewhat of a soup snob these days. I don’t buy canned soup as I can usually whip up a pot of something from scratch while I’m cooking Sunday lunch. I mean, I’m already chopping onions, what’s one more?
This week, while the Sunday chicken was in the oven, I roasted some tomatoes which I had in the freezer from my summer garden (still have a half dozen bags left!) These were then tossed into a Dutch oven with some sweated shallots, beef stock (bolder than the usual chicken), and a bit of tomato paste to ramp up the flavor. A quick sszzzzhhhh with the immersion blender, and I had tomato soup for lunch this week.
And we don’t even have to be sick to have an excuse to eat it.
What did your folks make you when you were sick as a kid? What do you like to eat now?
Roasted Tomato Soup
2 quart sized bags of frozen tomatoes, or 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes with juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
4 shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups beef stock
½ tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp dry sherry (optional)
1/2 cup half and half (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Set a strainer over a bowl and break open the tomatoes, putting the seeds, skins (if any) and the juice in the strainer. Reserve the liquid and discard the seeds/skins. Put the tomato halves on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes are dried out and just starting to carmelize. Keep an eye on them, they can burn quite easily. When done, remove the tomatoes and add a bit of water to the baking pan. Scrape up any accumulated browned bits and add to the reserved tomato liquid.
While tomatoes are baking, heat butter in a medium sized Dutch oven until melted. Add shallots, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for about a minute. Then add the flour and cook an additional 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Whisk in the beef stock, then add the thyme, reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer soup for 10 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to the consistency of your choice. Add the sherry (if desired) and the half and half (also, if desired) and heat another minute. Taste for seasoning and serve.
Lisa Parsley is a Janesville native writes about food and cooking for Gazettextra.com. Lisa is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.