Tomato Soup

Everyone needs an easy tomato soup recipe for comforting nights in and easy lunches to go. I knew it was the perfect opportunity to make my basic recipe after I hauled back a large sourdough home from San Francisco. Yep, I was that person. And I am so glad I did because it made amazing grilled cheese to go with my soup. I call this recipe basic as it has no real surprises to it, but that does not take away from how delicious it is. Unlike many tomato soups with heavy cream, I have added half and half. It gives you that hint of creaminess, without all the guilt. A tip for your grilled cheese is to use a panini press, but if you do not have one, a plate and a kettle full of water pressing down on each sandwich will do just as well. I have eaten this meal three times already, my sourdough is almost gone and I know I should have made more tomato soup to freeze. Best thing is, this is so easy to make I might just repeat it tomorrow.

Tomato Soup
Forks & Amusement 2011
serves 6-8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
salt and pepper
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
crushed red pepper to taste (optional if you like a bit of heat)
2-48oz cans diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
5 large basil leaves, chopped

Place a large pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the oil and once hot add the onion and carrot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sweat until onions are translucent and carrots soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add in the tomatoes with their juices and the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper generously and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.

If you have an emersion blender, blend soup in the pot. If not, place small amounts of the soup in a blender and puree to desired consistency (I like a little chunky, but go as smooth as you like it). **Be careful not to overfill blender and to let the soup cool a bit. Otherwise you will have tomato soup all over your kitchen, trust me I did it** Return soup back to pot once it has all been pureed.

Warm soup up if needed, add in the half and half and 3/4 of the basil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm with a bit more basil sprinkled on top.



Crispy Chicken with Lemon Vinaigrette

I have not been a great cook lately. My creativity has been shot and I have been tucking into staples that I have already posted. Nothing wrong with that, but I have been keeping all of you hungry for more! This chicken recipe is one of my favorite dinners and I have made it a lot over the last month. Now that the weather is colder, I could not be more excited to start cooking soup and one-pot meals that I hope to share with you soon. If you have anything to spark my cooking, I would love to hear from you! 

Crispy Chicken with Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves 4
4 chicken breasts (about 2 lbs.) pounded to 1/2-inch thick between two pieces of parchment or wax paper
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs beaten lightly
2 cups panko bread crumbs (or any other breadcrumbs)
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper (optional)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 shallot, minced (garlic is a good sub if you have it)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 Tbsp. plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
6 cups mixed greens
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I like grape or Campari)
Set up three dishes in a row and a platter at the end. Place the flour in the first dish, the eggs in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third. Season all the plates with salt and pepper, add crushed rep pepper to the breadcrumbs if you like some heat.
Using tongs or your hands, dredge both sides of one of the chicken breasts in the flour to coat, shaking off the excess. Place in the egg and coat both sides, then place in the breadcrumbs and coat well on both sides. Press down and even use your hands to fill in any holes. Place on platter. Repeat with each chicken breast and place in fridge for 15 minutes up to an hour.
Warm the oven. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat the pan until the butter just starts to turn brown. Place chicken in the pan, do not overcrowd, you can do it in batches. Cook on both sides until crisp and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Place in the oven to keep warm and repeat with remaining chicken.
Meanwhile, whisk together the shallot, mustard and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste, then whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Pour in the bottom of a large bowl and place the greens and tomatoes on top.
To serve, toss the salad to coat with the vinaigrette. Place a chicken breast on each plate and mound the salad on top. Serve immediately.
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