Monday, March 1, 2010

Soup Night: Why Size Really Doesn't Matter

Life has been a bit crazy around here. The excitement of the Family Recipe Challenge has brought a whorl of activity to our otherwise fairly calm abode. Our recipe is now up online. And the news of our winnings have made it all the way over to [article about the challenge here].  Our life is suddenly filled with interviews, promo events, and All Sorts of Crazy.

So, thank goodness for soup night!  Seems there's nothing like a hot steaming pot of nourishing soup (or 3!) on the stove to remind you of what really matters.

This week, we chose three classic soups -- comfort food favorites, if you will.  There was New England clam chowder with Nueske's cherrywood smoked bacon, tender chopped clams, lots of potatoes, and plenty of fresh cream.

We made one of our favorite version of split pea soup -- peas simmered in chicken stock with barley, carrots, onions, thyme, and garlic, and embellished at the last moment with slices of apple-gouda chicken sausage.

And then there was the tomato soup. Made with roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh basil, and a splash of fig balsamic vinegar (thanks to Olga at Mango & Tomato for the inspiration) this soup was the simplest of the bunch. Even with a splash of cream stirred in, it really captured the essence of summer -- something we're all eagerly yearning for here in Wisconsin.  The only thing that could have made this soup better would have been a nice crispy grilled cheese sandwich to nibble on the side.
The crowd was a bit more intimate this time around (only ten of us, rather than the 20 we had in January). Most of the attendees were returning.  However, we were lucky enough to have yet another blogger friend join the party. This time it was Julia from Yulinka Cooks.  She graced our table with delicious yogurt scones (many thanks to Clothilde from Chocolate & Zucchini, whose recipe she used), which we spread with butter and gobbled while sipping wine and chatting.

The smaller group meant that we had quite the rolicking visit. Fueled by his mother's delicious chocolate chip cookies, adorable 2yo Oliver entertained us with amusing dramatic interludes (including a brief, but memorable, performance as a cat). On the adult end, a brief concert ensued, during which Peef played his didgeridoo and Peter joined in on a rain stick. Tales of beet borscht and pickled watermelon rinds led to conversations about old family recipes.

Overall, I don't think I'm overstating the case when I suggest that everyone had quite the good time. We missed many familiar faces -- but we're definitely looking forward to our final soup night at the end of March. And I hope you'll join us if you're in the area.

And, of course, I won't leave you without a recipe.  Even if you have to make this soup with canned, fire-roasted tomatoes, you won't be sorry. And don't forget a splash of your favorite fruity balsamic vinegar. Lovely stuff.

Roasted Tomato Soup

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  1. Yay, a post about soup night! Thanks again for inviting me. I will attest that the tomato soup was delicious, and so were your homemade croutons. Thanks for posting the recipe. I will be making this soon.

    As for All Sorts of Crazy--I'm amazed and impressed by your frequent and eloquent posts. Where do you find the time? As for me, I'm working on my brief weekly blog update...this one is about a single piece of Russian candy I found in a kitchen drawer yesterday. Granted, the candy has grizzly bears on the wrapper (really) and a kitschy Russian name, but still...

  2. Yeai! You liked my soup and recreated it! All the other ones look delicious as well.

  3. I love clam chowder! Smoked bacon pieces sound really good with it! What a great idea!

  4. I wish I was there...didgeridoo? WHAT? I missed that? Not to mention that everything sounds terrific. My boy-o likes to be a cat too, so it sounds like he and Oliver would hit it off...Hopefully, we'll all be there next month!

  5. I made clam chowder tonight too! My husband dug a full basket of clams on Sunday (in the snow, that hardy lad!), so we're eating alot of clams this week.

    The tomato soup is a must try, so I'm happy you included the recipe. I wish I lived closer to you so I could attend soup night. It sounds delightful.

    Thank you again for your help with the techo stuff at my blog.

  6. Sounds like a fun party for sure. That splash of balsamic must add such lovely flavor to the soup

  7. That clam chowder looks amazing! I want that recipe!

  8. Julia - Can't wait to read about the Russian candy!!

    Olga - Yes! The balsamic trick is a good one. Made a good recipe even better.

    Sook - The new cherrywood smoked bacon from Nueskes rocks. You should try it!

    Rebecca - Yes, a didgeridoo. Maybe Peef can haul it out for you next time! :) Can't wait to meet the boy-o!

    Laurie - Fresh clams! I'm coming to YOUR house for dinner!!

    Kat - The balsamic definitely adds a little something. Bet a lemon balsamic would be spectacular too!

    Chris - Got a request for the split pea too. Am thinking I'll post the recipes later on this week. Keep an eye out!

  9. You have me dreaming of fig balsamic vinegar. I could make a mean tomato soup of my own and probably a few more things if I had that!

  10. To me soup can be had any day of the week! I just love the stuff and you can vary endlessly with it... This all looks delicious!

  11. Oh my gosh - how exciting! You know I love all things social, so I'm loving to hear of others who are doing the same :)

    Love tomato basil soup! Just stocked up on canned tomatoes so I have no excuse when faced with "what's for dinner?"

  12. Ohhhhh...can I just say I want a scoop of all of the above and the time to languish in food land. SO miss it. Want soup for dinner...

  13. enjoy all the attention and laurels, folks--methinks you've earned it!
    tremendous soups. the split pea batch needs to find itself in my belly and soon! :)

  14. How fun is THAT?? On both counts! I had received an email over a week ago about entering that contest, and then my hard drive crashed and I lost everything (grr!) so I never entered. I'm so excited for you that you were a winner!!

    The soup looks amazing and the get together sounds marvelous! Where can I read more about it and possibly attend?

  15. Wow! That's exciting! Congratulations! The soup looks very tasty!

  16. Amanda - I've emailed you the details. And, btw, if you can make our next soup night (last Sunday in March), you're welcome to join us! Email me if you're interested.

  17. The tomato soup sounds delicious. I love the idea of roasting the tomatoes. The pea soup definitely reminds me of an Indian dal. Sounds great.

  18. I love soup all year round - cold soups in the summer, but can never pass up chicken noodle no matter what season it is! These all look delicious and the roasted tomato soup is a wonderful recipe indeed!

  19. Lo you won!! That is fantastic. I'm happy dancing for you!

  20. Thanks for the happy dance! Now we just have to hope we make it through the final round of judging at the end of the month!

  21. All these soups are divine. A perfect soul satisfying meal. Love it!

  22. Congrats on your winning recipe! The soups looks fantastic!


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