Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tomato Soup for Mom

Faith, the company of family and friends and a little soup have helped mom cope with the loss of her beloved during these past 10 days. On the day dad died, her freezer was packed with individual servings of soup. These meals helped her maintain her strength at a time when she didn't have the energy or inclination to cook.

A sister and members of mom's church started cooking meals when dad's health began to fail (about three weeks before his death). Mom's one request to these culinary angels was that they join her in the meal. Mom said it would take her a while to get used to dining alone. Company helped cope with her pending loss.

I delivered two quarts of tomato soup this afternoon. In many ways, soup is the perfect food for mom. It offers ease of preparation (thaw, microwave and eat) and gives her comfort. Mom and dad often shared a soup and salad meal in the cool of the evening.

A bowl of tomato, slip pea or vegetable soup (her favorites) helps sooth the soul while giving her much needed nutrition. Coupled with the loving company of family and friends, the soup will help mom adjust to her new life without dad.


This is a variation on the recipe that I prepared at camp last summer. As I often do, I used the opportunity to use older ingredients in the refrigerator. For a cream of tomato soup, stir in 2 cups hot milk, half-and-half or cream before serving.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
3-1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped (reserve juices)
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Heal oil or bacon fat in a 4-quart heavy sauce pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and carrot to hot oil and sauteed until slightly softened, but don't brown. Add flour and stir to form a white roux. Cook roux-vegetable mixture for 2 minutes, stirring continually.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes and reserved juice, tomato paste and herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until reduced to the desired consistency. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and carefully blend until smooth. (Caution -- hot liquids create steam which will blow the top off the blender. Cover blender lid with towel while you hold the lid down.) Return soup to sauce pot.

Add a little sugar if necessary to temper the acidity of the tomatoes. If the soup is too thick, thin out with a little chicken broth. Season with salt and ground white pepper to taste.

Makes approximately 2 quarts, or 8 (8-ounce) servings.

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