I know that in many people’s minds, soup is not the kind of thing you get overly excited about. It often gets overlooked on the menu in favor of a more exciting appetizer, and unless it has words like velouté in its title, it just doesn’t have much sex appeal to many. But not this girl. This girl loves soup, loves it unabashedly and wholly, placing it in the three top reasons to love fall and winter; the other two being squash season and thick wool sweaters. And red wine. And hot cider. Okay, so maybe more than three, but you get the gist.
I’ve been meaning to make soup for quite some time now this fall, but the weather’s been playing tricks on me. I’ll get ready to prepare a pot of a hot and hearty soup and sneaky fall will flirt with Indian summer, pushing the temperatures well into their 60s. And here I am, with beets and cabbage in tow, ready to make borscht. It’s been so unsettling – this lack of soup in my kitchen this fall, I was beginning to wonder when it might happen for me.
And then there was last week, when the weather was downright abysmal – pouring rain, nearly black skies and me staring longingly outside the office window wishing I was home on my couch with a pillow and a blanket and a good book. But seeing as I wasn’t anywhere near these comforts, I had to find solace elsewhere – in the form of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich – perfect rainy day meal, if you ask me. The grilled cheese sandwich hit the spot, but the tomato soup, watery and bland, left me wanting.
I wanted something hearty and thick, something hearty with intense flavors. And so I set out to find a recipe that might deliver those qualities. After much searching I found a recipe at Martha Stewart, but never content with first good find, continued to peruse the web. Which is when I happened upon Molly’s write up on the very soup I bookmarked at Martha Stewart.
It sounded delicious, it used cilantro (which is one of my favorite herbs ever), and with some jalapeno chopped up finely, the soup offered a little bit more heat than its mere elevated temperature. It sounded delicious and simple – and given how demanding work has been this fall, simple is a concept very much embrace.
Besides, Molly’s praises of the soup were so glowing, that I was instantly convinced. Besides, she recommends passing the time, while you wait for the soup to cook, with a glass of wine. Which, when you’re hosting a small dinner for your friends, might be precisely what you need to get you in a festive dinner-party mood. And since it’s red wine season again – go ahead, put the soup on, and pour yourself a glass. You earned it.
Spicy Tomato Soup with Cilantro Stems
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion (about 8 ounces), chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup cilantro stems, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1. Heat olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add salt, pepper, cilantro stems, and jalapeno.
2. Strain tomatoes and add juice to saucepan. Seed tomatoes, chop coarsely, and add to saucepan. Add 2 cups water and stir to combine. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Add lime juice and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Divide among 4 soup bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream.