Double recipe post! Why not?
I was feeling nostalgic and needing an excuse to make a batch of biscuits the way my mom used to: all in one blob on the pan, cut into mismatched rectangles when they came out of the oven, not too buttery but so much better with soup than bread or crackers. So what did I do? I made soup.
Soup is so easy to make if you just don’t allow yourself to over-think it. Liquid, flavorful things and heat is all it takes – very few combinations can go awry. Perhaps I’m odd but the classic tomato soup is generally (and by generally, I mean virtually always) completely unappealing to me. I love tomatoes almost any way that I can get them, but I think I must have been traumatized by the orange-ish canned sludge that is condensed cream of tomato soup. I shudder at the thought of that flavour – distinctly tinny and sweet yet tangy, and not in a balanced way at all. Dunk my grilled cheese in that? No thank you.
There has to be a better way.
And there is, in fact, there are many more superior cream of tomato soups out there, whether prepared fresh by a chef at a little bistro, or made on an assembly line and destined for a shelf life in a tetra-pak, better cream of tomato soups do exist. I’d just never had one that I liked until I made it myself.
‘Simple is best.’ You hear this a lot, particularly in the food world, and I for one, think it’s absolutely true. The more our food’s ingredients taste like what they really are, the truer the flavors and more enjoyable the dish. Absolutely there is a time and a place for complex layerings of flavor that mingle and create endless nuances for the palate, blah blah blah, but when we’re talking soup, ‘plain old warm you up on a chilly February afternoon after you’ve been out in the drizzle’ soup, those complex layers need not apply. What must apply is a quality selection of ingredients, some time and care, and a a bit of belief that simple can be more than good, it can be good enough to convert the most voracious non-believer.
Cream of Tomato Soup (for people who think they don’t like Cream of Tomato Soup)
Like the title suggests, this soup can convert even the most jaded tomato soup eaters. Forget the sweet, bland condensed canned version you grew up with and try this flavorful soup full of true tomato flavour.
2 slices smokey bacon
1 medium onion, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 C good quality jarred tomato puree
2 C water
3 bay leaves
1 C plain yogurt (fat free works perfectly here)
salt and pepper to taste
Begin with a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven – start by frying the bacon until well done and very crisp. Remove and set aside. Add the bay leaves, onion and garlic to the bacon fat and saute until golden brown but not crispy. Add the water and tomato puree. Cook over medium low for 30 mins until partially reduced. Pour hot soup into a blender (be careful!), add the bacon and yogurt and blend until very smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to blitz the soup in the pot on the stove. Reheat and thin the soup as needed with a bit of water. Serve hot.
Savory Scallion and Yogurt Biscuits
These quick biscuits are the perfect compliment to creamy, dreamy tomato soup and come together in about 2 minutes and bake up in 15.
Preheat the oven to 375F
2 C all purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
¾ C chilled butter, cute into small chunks
½ C plain yogurt
½ C cold milk
2 scallions, chopped crosswise, quite fine
a pinch of each salt and pepper
Combine the yogurt and milk in a measuring cup, set aside. Chop the scallions and set them aside too. Grease a cookie sheet and have it at the ready.
Combine the flour, cornstarch and baking powder. With your hands, crumble in the butter and work it into the flour until only pea sized pieces of butter remain. Add the scallions, tossing them through the flour and butter. Add the wet ingredients and swiftly mix until the dough just barely comes together. Take care to not over mix. Pat the dough, which will be very sticky, out into a rough oval about ½” thick on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden and the biscuit is puffed and the surface is dry. Remove from the oven and cut lengthwise down the middle and then crosswise making several cuts to yields 12-16 ‘fingers’. Serve immediately.