First of all, I’m finally back in Pensacola! Boy, that was a quick and busy trip to Los Angeles for wedding planning. After not having been there for over a year, I had forgotten how….well different it was. Living in Pensacola, I’ve become accustomed to only having two or three restaurant options, fishing on hot and humid days, and sitting at home with my little family rather than going out. Oh, and having the option of sweet tea everywhere you go. The south is great. We don’t have stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or department stores like Bloomingdales. I don’t think most people would even know what I’m talking about. I’m sure a majority of people from big cities would call me crazy, but I like this simple life style.
Getting onto the plane from Dallas to Los Angeles really reminded me what I didn’t miss about that place. Overly tanned, obnoxiously and promiscuously dressed women with hair larger than life, carrying their Louis Vuitton bags that shout “This bag is expensive. Yours isn’t.” Oh, don’t forget guys wearing their flat tops with pants sagging so low, I don’t understand how they stay there in the first place. There’s just too many things. I prefer the low key life here in Pensacola. No one judges you and in turn, you don’t judge others. Showing off money just doesn’t matter.
Anyway, even though it is hotter than the Devil’s ass here, I felt like making some tomato soup. Mostly because (a) we don’t have much food and (b) why don’t you go shopping you ask? We had a weather advisory about how hot the weather is. Feels like 105 F with humidity. This means walking from my car to the store, no matter how close, means I’ll be sweating profusely.
One of the key steps of making this soup flavorful is to caramelize the onions and tomatoes. It makes a world of difference.
Serves: 4 people
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
2 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1.5 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1. In a saucepan, caramelize the onions and butter on low heat. Be patient with this process. You’ll want to just get it over with but I promise, allowing the onions to caramelize properly makes the soup naturally sweet. If you aren’t familiar with caramelizing, it’s basically slowly cooking the onions, while constantly stirring, until they are brown. Try tasting some of the onion when it’s at this point; it’ll surprise you how sweet it gets.
2. Add the garlic and stir. Cook for 3 minutes.
3. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste and increase the heat to medium. Mix thoroughly and constantly stir for 5 minutes. This also gets the tomato to caramelize.
4. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
5. In a food processor, carefully blend the hot mixture until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender.
6. Return the mixture to a pot and add cream. Allow to simmer for a couple minutes.
7. Enjoy with crackers or a grilled cheese sandwich!
Don’t underestimate caramelizing your ingredients when you can. It’s actually quite amazing how it changes the flavor of the final product.