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There are days where nothing makes us feel better than comfort food.  Rich, warm, fatty, decadent, savory or sweet.  We all have that thing that takes us to a warm, safe place.  My mother never made meatloaf and mashed potatoes, but I love it so.  I also don’t recall her making lasagna.  She did teach me to make macaroni and cheese very early on (blue box of course).  But when I came home today and saw the distinctive square box on my porch, my spirit soared!!  I had fresh, raw pecans waiting for me.  For those of you who did not grow up in the south, there is nothing better.  They are soft and tender, earthy and sweet.  I could have easily eaten the entire gallon bag right there on my porch, but I restrained myself (sort of).  Thanks Mom!

Nothing makes a winter day better than a warm bowl of soup.  We have had the most ridiculous weather this fall.  I had roses blooming in my yard last week and tonight we are having a squall.  Thanks to my friend Pat, I now have a freezer full of warm savory goodness  She hosted a soup exchange and we each had to bring 8 quarts of our homemade soup to share with the other guests.

tomato soup collective

We had such a good turnout for the exchange.  Pat thought everyone would be health conscience, but almost all the soups had some cream and there was quite a showing of bacon.  The funnies thing was two different ladies, who had never met, made the SAME soup! It was an interesting contrast, but both were quite good.  I had been craving tomato soup and had easily bookmarked half a dozen different recipes, but mostly settled on a Cooking Light version.  I had to add a few tweaks and I am delighted with how it turned out.

 

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup

Originally yields: 4 servings- serving size: about 1/2 cup (My variations made 18 pints.)

1 cup less-sodium beef broth, divided (3 32z cartons)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (probably 3T)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. (Probably 1/2c)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce (4-5T)
1 cup coarsely chopped onion (4 onions)
(I added 6 parsnips, chopped)
5 garlic cloves (1 whole head)
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained (6 cans)
Cooking spray (omitted)
3/4 cup half-and-half (probably about 16-20z)
Cracked black pepper (omitted)
Preheat oven to 500.

Combine 1/2 cup of broth, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Place onion, garlic, (parsnips), and tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour broth mixture over tomato mixture. Bake at 500* for 50 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.

(I skipped all of this)Place tomato mixture in a blender. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth and half-and-half, and process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Garnish with cracked black pepper, if desired.

I put 2 cartons beef broth and reserved tomato juice from cans (plus a little water from rinsing cans out) on the stove to preheat.  Once roasted veggies are done, I scooped into the pot plus any juice left in roast pan.  Use a stick blender and puree until smooth.  Stir in half and half.  Taste and adjust salt if needed.

 

Pat also had the brilliant idea of putting the servings of soup in mason jars.  Think about it- a leak proof container that once you remove the lid can be your microwavable soup bowl.  I don’t know if this gem is at all Goodwill stores, but in Portland, mason jars are all .29 a piece!

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