Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cold Weather and Comfort Food

I'm not sure why cold, wintry weather causes me to want foods that I enjoyed as a child.  Oklahoma is under a winter weather advisory for the next couple of days.  It's grey, cloudy, and a mix of rain and sleet is coming down---and I had to have some home made tomato soup.

We don't get a lot of snow in Oklahoma.  As a kid, when we did get enough snow to play in, my mother gave us "one trip out and one trip in".  In other words, go play as long as you want, but you're not tracking snow in on the floors.  We'd bundle up, go outside and make snowballs and attempt to make a snowman.  We'd stay until we were frozen to the bone because we knew if we went inside she wouldn't allow us to go back out again.

I remember one particular snow day.  We wanted to make snowballs, but had no gloves.  I'm not sure if momma suggested this, or if we came up with the idea ourselves, but, we put socks on our hands to use like mittens.  It probably was our brilliant idea.  Cotton socks get wet really, really quickly when you're rolling snowballs and your hands are then encased in wet ice packs. 

That day when we went inside, momma had a pot of tomato soup ready for our lunch.  I can still smell the aroma of that soup.  It's a good childhood memory, one I associate with being safe and warm at home.

Today is a perfect day for home made tomato soup.  I made myself a small pan of it and finished every delicious drop for my lunch today.

Momma was a "from scratch" cook.  She did keep canned cream soups on hand to make casseroles and once in a while we'd have cans of chicken noodle soup, but she didn't use a lot of convenience foods.  When she put a meal on the table, it came from her hands, not a box or can.

If you've never had home made tomato soup, and you're a tomato soup fan, you don't know what you've been missing.  Real tomato soup is nothing like the congealed, sweet, pink stuff in a can.  You can still taste the tang of the tomato and it's not sweet at all.

I learned to make tomato soup by watching momma do it.  There's no set in stone recipe.  In my opinion, the best recipes are the ones you prepare by sight and tasting.  Here's how my momma, and I, make tomato soup.

You'll need a small can of tomato juice, salt, pepper, baking soda and some sort of milk.  You can use milk from a carton, canned milk, half and half or even heavy cream.  My favorite is just milk from the carton but the cream or half and half will make it much richer.

Heat the tomato juice in a saucepan along with the spices until it comes to a boil.  Then add a generous pinch of baking soda and stir well.  The hot juice will immediately begin to foam.  That's the baking soda neutralizing the acid in the tomato juice.  If you don't use the soda, the milk will curdle when you add it.

Then add enough milk to your liking, lower the heat and simmer until it's heated through and through.  Now, all you need to add is a grilled cheese sandwich and you'll have a wonderful meal!

If you're making a large pot of the soup like the photo above, increase the amount of baking soda you add.  Today I measured the amount I used for 2 cups of tomato juice.  I added 1/4 tsp of baking soda and it was enough.  Momma never measured hers with a measuring spoon, she'd take the handle of the spoon and dip it into the soda box.  Whatever formed a mound on the tip of the handle was what went into the pan.

Heavy whipping cream is what I used to make my soup today.  It made it super rich and satisfying and I enjoyed two bowls full!


char52 said...

I love this post!! My mom always had homemade hot chocolate for us when we came in... My ex-husbands mom alway made homemade cinnamon bread on snow days. Since I'm a teacher and had off on bad weather days I continued both traditions... I would stock the kitchen with supplies when bad weather was called for... Kiddies are all grown, I have cheated and gotten a bread machine but I still make bread on a snow day and have hot chocolate when I come in after shoveling.

Brenda said...

I love, love homemade tomato soup!! I used to canned it when I was younger, now I don't can. lol Yes, a good bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is some really great comfort food! Hugs!