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(Above:  Soup is easily vegan without the feta garnish.)

This is the last week I’ll  feature a recipe from my new book, Soups & Sides for Every Season (click HERE to order).   Make the recipe, photograph it, email the pic to me:  soupsandsides@gmail.com.   If yours is the first email with a recipe photo I receive, I’ll mail you a book!  Don’t forget to include your snail mail address in the email as well as any adjustments you made to the recipe.  Now get “cooking!”  I can’t wait to hear from you.

My first for-real book signing is Saturday, July 19 (11am – 1 pm) at Aspen Kitchens and Design Studio here in Colorado Springs:  5134 North Nevada Ave. Colorado Springs, 80918 –University Village Complex. I’ll have a few books with me, but you still have time to buy one and bring it!  There may even be some soup or something else to taste.  Come see!  Next up is Shouse Appliances at Academy and Austin Bluffs; date tba.  There’ll be some cooking going on at Shouse, of course.

Soup Book-Cover final

If you haven’t had a chance to look at the book yet, it’s a soft covered paperback, 174 pages, and was a more than two-year effort that included a wonderful team:  Patricia Miller, editor; Amanda Weber, designer; Daniel Craig, artist; and Drew Robinson, CS, sommelier.  I had a dedicated team of much-loved testers and they’re all listed in the acknowledgment section.  Read up about them!

The book itself is divided into seven chapters:  one soup chapter for each season, and then one each for Breads and Spreads, Salads and Fast Sides, and, saving the last for best, Desserts.  The desserts are very simple recipes and only one or two require any baking.  Most are nearly instant (think individual microwave chocolate pudding cakes) and there’s a whole page of ideas for truly instant desserts (parfaits, etc.)

But this week is the lovely, light, perky and favorite of my testers soup, TOMATO-CARROT with FETA.  I include cook’s notes if you’d like to use fresh tomatoes as it IS July!  I love many things about this soup –mostly its taste — but it also is easily made vegetarian or vegan (use vegetable broth for both; substitute croutons for the feta for vegan)  Try and it and put on your happy face:

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TOMATO-CARROT SOUP WITH FETA  and Salt and Pepper Bread with Parmesan Cheese

4 Main-Course servings or 6-8 First course servings

Everyone loves Tomato-Basil Soup, often swooning with cream or Parmesan cheese.  This, however, is not THAT soup, despite the fact that there is basil in the soup and maybe a little cheese on the bread.  Voted one of the favorite soups by testers, Tomato-Carrot Soup is light with a touch of sweetness and most happy with a big piece of toasted bread dunked right in the middle.  Or it would kiss a companion grilled cheese sandwich because that’s what tomato soup does, right?

This soup also makes a delicious first course for special or holiday meals and could take the place of a green salad.  It can be kept warm easily in a crock-pot in the dining room while you prepare the rest of the meal. Then you’ll hear, “Oh, wow!  You made soup!”

SOUP:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 5 medium carrots, minced
  • 6 stalks celery, minced
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes (Cento is good.)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (Use vegetable broth for Vegetarian/Vegan option/Check ingredients for Gluten-Free)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (in bowl at table)  Skip for vegan option or add croutons to serve.)

SALT AND PEPPER BREAD WITH PARMESAN CHEESE

  • 4 ½ slices baguette for salt and pepper crostini  (Skip this section for Passover meals. Use Gluten-Free bread as needed.)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons freshly-grated parmesan, opt. (Skip cheese for vegan option)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
1.  In an 8-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add carrots, celery and onion. Sauté five minutes, adding garlic for last two minutes. Stir in fresh herbs and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with fork or knife. You could food-process the tomatoes beforehand if you’d like. Cook briefly, one-two minutes to marry flavors. Add broth and salt and pepper.
2.  Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer until veggies are tender, 10-15 min. Add extra broth or water if soup becomes too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot.
3. Ladle into small bowls and pass feta cheese at table. Serve w/ salt and pepper crostini if serving for Easter; skip bread for Passover meals.
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SALT & PEPPER BREAD WITH PARMESAN CHEESE: Preheat broiler. Slice French baguette into ½ in slices and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Top with a dusting of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and a little grated parmesan cheese if desired.  Broil bread 4-inches from heat, watching closely, until cheese is melted, bubbly, and brown.  Alternately, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit on a baking sheet about 10 minutes or until toasted through.
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To make one day ahead and bring to a holiday dinner:  Cook as above.  Remove from  heat and cool to room temperature before refrigerating overnight.  Day of the dinner, heat a crock-pot full of water on high.  Just before dinner or before leaving for a  meal elsewhere, heat pot of soup on stove top.  Pour water out of now hot crock-pot and pour in soup.  Place lid on top and secure firmly with large, thick rubber bands.  Wrap crock-pot in old towels and place in cardboard box for transporting if you don’t have a crock-pot carrier.  Bring feta in a separate container.
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COOK’S NOTES:  If you’d like to substitute fresh tomatoes for the canned (and it’s the right time to do it), choose 10-12 lovely medium, ripe and fresh tomatoes. Dig out the cores and cut an “X” into their bottoms.  Bring a big pot of water to boil and gently lower the tomatoes into the pot in batches–say 3 or 4 at a time.  Let cook about a minute or until skins will easily peel.  Cool briefly, peel quickly with a small sharp knife and chop well.  Add the chopped tomatoes to the soup and cook an extra 10-15 minutes during the second step.
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 DREW’S WINE RECOMMENDATIONS:  Red:  Nebbiolo.   Prefer white?  Sauvignon Blanc, though avoid the New Zealand wineries.
 
Dessert:  Cheese plate.
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Happy Anniversary to us!! Yesterday found us celebrating at The Broadmoor—40 years of bliss.  Well, mostly.
Sing a new song; cook a new soup,
Alyce