By big day I mean Thanksgiving. By prepping I mean keeping a close eye on healthy eating.
All this leads to one thing in my kitchen – soup. I have loads of frozen tomatoes waiting to be used, but chili wasn’t sounding right. I needed something more exciting than the basic tomato soup, too.
I’ve come to realize that a head of creamy, sweet roasted garlic makes just about everything better. This soup is no exception. Along with the garlic, I added some black beans for texture and protein.
This soup is sweet, rich and hearty all at the same time. I used about a gallon bag full of mixed frozen tomatoes from the garden. Skin on, whole tomatoes. It all gets blended by the immersion blender so leaving everything intact isn’t a problem for me. You can use whatever you have on hand – frozen, fresh, canned, whole, puree – it will all ultimately result in a tasty soup!
1 head garlic
~ 8 cups frozen whole tomatoes, thawed
2 tbsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mascavo or raw sugar
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Tear off about a 4×4 inch square of aluminum foil. Cut off the top of the full head of garlic removing just enough so that all the cloves are exposed. Place the garlic in the center of the foil, cut side up. Drizzle with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic and roast for about 30 minutes or until soft. Remove from the the oven and allow to cool.
While the garlic is roasted, begin to prepare the soup. Pour any excess water off of the thawed tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a large soup pot and heat to medium-high. Allow the tomatoes to cook down, crushing them with a spoon or potato masher as they cook, for about 15 minutes. Remove any foam that rises to the top, if desired.
Stir in the basil, red pepper, salt and sugar. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze all of the roasted cloves into a dish. I think using your hands is the easiest. Be sure to separate out any skin and leave only the soft flesh. Add the garlic to the soup. Remove from the heat.
Use an immersion blender to blend the soup and puree the tomatoes. You can also transfer it in batches to a blender to do this. Once everything is smooth simmer over medium heat for 5 more minutes and let the soup thicken.
Finally stir in the black beans and heat through. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and croutons if desired. Makes about 4 servings.
Chili is one of those foods that I get burned out on by December, but every time the next September rolls around, I’m ready for it all over again. My cravings for it this year started this past week, and they are just about spot on, considering we are moving towards the end of the month.
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Disclosure: Some products in this recipe were given to me free of charge from Whole Foods Market. I was not required to post about them and received no compensation for doing so. Thoughts here are my own.
We’ve been making grill packets all summer so when I was thinking of how I could put a twist on a classic tomato sauce, they were the first thing to come to mind. Packets of potatoes, onions, peppers and summer squash work on the grill, so why wouldn’t tomatoes, right?
I have to admit when I got all the grilled veggies pureed and took a taste, I was disappointed. The flavor I wanted just wasn’t there. But then I added salt. The next bite popped in my mouth! The salt brought out the smoky flavor from the grill which is exactly what I was hoping for.
A few packets of tomato may not be enough for heating up a large grill, but this marinara is the perfect thing to make when you have the grill up and running for other things. (We grilled ours while making a chicken this weekend.) Then you can quickly throw the sauce together and freeze it for another day if it doesn’t fit on your current menu.
This ends up being a basic marinara for any type of pasta. I am a huge fan of homemade, but I went for a quick meal this weekend and used a whole wheat penne. The veggies only need to be roughly chopped for the grill packets. They’ll be going straight to the blender to puree so there is no reason to spend a lot of time on the prep.
I’ll be doing this with our tomatoes for the rest of the season! The flavor is so much more interesting than when I roast the veggies in the oven.
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
~2.75 lbs tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, cored and chopped
~15 leaves fresh basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 lb pasta, cooked
Preheat the grill to 325 degrees F.
You will need 3 large pieces of aluminum foil, about 14 to 16 in long. You want the veggies wrapped well, so be generous.
Divide the onion, garlic cloves, tomatoes, bell pepper and basil evenly on each of the three pieces of foil. Drizzle a little of the olive oil on each packet and move the veggies around a bit to coat them.
You can use any packet making techniques because I’m no expert, but I fold the long sides in first. Then I pull the two ends together in the center to meet and roll them down, smashing things together as I go. As long as you have a sealed packet, you’ll be fine. Need help? Here’s a post with instructions.
Place the packets on the grill, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Remove them from the grill and transport them into the kitchen.
Once they are cool enough to touch, place the veggies in the blender in batches. Puree until smooth and pour the puree in a soup pot on the stove. Turn on low heat, and add the balsamic vinegar and the salt. Stir occasionally. You are only warming the sauce again until you are ready to eat it. If you plan to freeze it, you can skip the heating, mix in the vinegar and salt and portion it for freezing.
Pour the sauce over pasta and garnish with basil and parmesan cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Come share in the tomato love at the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day, sponsored this week by Pappardelle’s Also visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.
I love that I made the decision to start a food blog a little over four years ago. But I’m not the only one that will tell you – the fun has a way of fading to stress from time to time. Pressures of creativity, uniqueness, pretty pictures, and “what if they don’t like me?” can rear their ugly heads.
These are the times when you have to remember that, while we would all like to be wildly successful, it’s important not to lose yourself along the way. This is supposed to be a happy place!
When I stop worrying about numbers and return to why I started blogging, I find myself noticing the posts that are visited the most often on my site. I love how this changes from season to season. It reminds me that, yeah, the post I did two years ago does have some value.
Right now the top post on my blog is Patty Pan Squash Stuffed with Basil Orzo. I made it a few years ago after first discovering this veggie. Everyone seems to want advice for how to tackle patty pan’s pretty, yet hard to handle, shape in the kitchen.
I’ve felt challenged to come up with a new stuffing since I made that first patty pan, so here we have it. This time the squash came straight from the garden.
I’m continuing the recent trend of using black rice, and with pastured heritage breed sausage, this recipe doesn’t leave out the meat-lovers.
It’s tasty on it’s own, but if you have some warm marinara on hand to spoon on top, it’s even better!
Extra virgin olive oil
4-6 patty pan squash
1/2 lb ground pastured pork sausage
2 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups black rice, cooked
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinara for topping (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 in baking dish lightly with olive oil.
The recipe will fill 6 small squash or 4 larger squash. Wash the squash. Slice off the tops, and using a spoon, gently scoop out the insides. Don’t scoop all the way through the bottom. You want to create a cup to hold the filling. Chop up the squash you scooped out and set it aside.
Lightly coat the squash cups in olive oil and pierce with a fork in a few spots. Bake the squash for about 15 minutes, until they begin to soften. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a skillet, brown the sausage on medium heat. When it is about half way done, add the bell peppers, onion and the chopped squash you scooped out. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink.
Stir the rice, bread crumbs and ricotta into the sausage. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once the filling is cool enough to handle, divide it evenly into each squash. Pile it high and press gently with a spoon so that it is compact.
Bake for 20 more minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Top with marinara before serving. Serves 4 to 6.