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Monday, February 28, 2011

Curing Cabin Fever: Tomato Soup

At some point, it happens every winter.  I'm going along just fine and then the day finally comes. 

Last Thursday was the day. 

I opened my door in the morning to let the dog back in and saw, for the 1,436th time this winter, this:


And that was officially It.  I am SICK OF WINTER.

I am sick of having to bundle up and step out into the cold to untangle my dog's leash.
I'm sick of shoveling.  I'm sick of sloshing through slush and slipping on ice.  I am REALLY sick of water leaking into my boots.
I'm sick of walking into work in my nice clothes only to find I've kicked up dirty snow water on the backs of my legs.
I'm sick of eating stews and roasts and squash while I shiver under a blanket on my couch. 
I'm sick of looking out into my backyard and seeing this:
I've got Cabin Fever and I've got it bad.

But there's March, April, and most of May to get through before it's officially spring in Wisconsin.  So, in the meantime, I've got some projects planned to get me through. 

First, is tomato soup.  Which doesn't sound like much.  Unless you have REAL tomatos.

And I don't mean the pink, hard, tasteless Faux-matos that are in the grocery stores now. 
I mean these:



Those are REAL tomatoes picked from my garden last summer.  I grow more than I can eat while they're fresh.  So I toss the ones that are ripe into the freezer for later.  Thursday was officially "later". 

I took them out to defrost over night in a pan. 


Aren't they beautiful in their Real Red goodness?  I love homemade tomato soup but peeling tomatoes is a pain.  I like freezing them because they get gooshy when they defrost and I can just squeeze the meat right out of the peel.  Here's what they looked like in the morning. 
You can really just rip into them wih your fingers a bit and let the meat plop out into a bowl.  I was left with this in skins:

But more importantly, I had a beautiful bowlful of this:
{Steps onto soapbox}:  People open my freezer in the winter and see the big pile of tomatoes and exlaim, "You just throw tomatoes in your freezer?!?"  Yup.  Let me tell you, even after these babies sit in the freezer for months, with no plastic wrap or anything to keep them sealed, the minute I start squeezing out the meat, it smells like I just stepped outside into the hot summer sun to pick them right then.

Does a storebought faux-mato do that? 

THAT is the difference between real, homegrown produce and the plastic crap they sell at the grocery store.
Any food that can maintain it's natural scent - even after months of unprotected freezing - is REAL FOOD.  Why would you settle for plastic? {Steps off soapbox}.

Back to the soup.  To the bowlful of meat, I added about 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp basil, 2 tsp oregano.  I stirred it, covered it, and let it sit while I went to work.

After I came home, I sauteed a bit of spring in some olive oil:


Mmm!  Leeks are pricey now, at $2.49/pound (and you only use the bottom part!).  But I didn't care.  I'm sick with cabin fever and food is my medicine.

When those were sauteed, I poured in the tomato mix and also added:
a tsp minced garlic, a cup of canned broth, 3 Tbsp blue cheese, 2 Tbsp srirachi sauce.  (The srirachi adds a wonderful kick and the blue cheese smooths out the heat - fabulous!!)  Once that all cooked, I used my immersion blender to smooth it all out then stirred in 1/2 cup of cream.

To help bring more summer in, I used my indoor Lodge grill to fry up some lamb burgers:


I put out a simple sauce of Greek yogurt mixed with lime juice and dill.

And, while I was defrosting summer, I also took out the last of my bucket of frozen raspberries.  After defrosting I was left with this:

Enough raspberries to mix with apples for a pie and just over a quart of pure raspberry juice which, I gotta say, is like ecstasy in a glass when you drink it straight up.

A Greek salad, some oven roasted potatoe "fries", and some rolls rounded out a delicious REAL summer meal in the dead of winter:



Stay tuned for more Cabin Fever relief! 
As a sidenote, I'm drinking Pepsi with my dinner there...my mom never, ever allowed soda water with dinner.  Even though I'm a grown-up and I can do what I darn well please, I still feel like I'm doing something bad when I'm having a soda with supper.

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