Tomato Basil Soup
one large onion , sliced and sauteed in one Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth ( I use two bouillon cubes and two cups boiling water)
Six medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (save and strain the juice from this procedure)
* now for yesterday's soup I threw 12 to 15 hard, red, small round tomatoes into a pot of boiling water to make skin removal easier. After skinning, removing the hard core and squeezing out the seeds into a strainer over a bowl, I had about six cups of tomato. In the winter I use a 28 oz can of really good organic tomatoes. At least four cups. More is okay.
one 6 ounce can of tomato paste
one teaspoon sugar
one teaspoon kosher salt
as much black pepper as you like
a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh basil ripped into the heated soup or a frozen basil ice cube *
Saute the onion in the oil and let it get a tiny bit brownish. I did this by accident once and discovered I liked it. Then add everything else and stir. Let come to boil and turn the heat to simmer and leave it covered for 30 minutes. Now, if you are like me, I turn it off, add the basil and let it sit on the stove until dinner time and reheat it. Then comes the FUN part. I use the immersion stick blender to blend all the chunks into a smooth, but still rustic, texture. Ladle into a bowl and swirl with heavy cream.
Basil Ice Cubes. At the end of Basil growing time I pick all the plants and take off the leaves and stuff them in the blender with a tiny bit of water (others use olive oil). I try and blend. Then add a tiny bit more water. When it's all blended into a thick liquid I transfer it to my green stained mini ice cube tray and then freeze. I remove the cubes and store in a freezer bag and throw a cube or two into pasta sauce, soup and anything that needs basil.
Cheesy, Easy Dumplings
Now you have to have some cooking chops to make this. It's not for beginners but since I made it the first time when I was about 13 or 14, I guess you should at least try. All the ingredients can be doubled to make more dumplings. But make a small amount the first time.
Put a small or medium saucepan of water on to boil.
Wash and chop some parsley (or dill or chives or anything)
Find a nice heavy cereal bowl or measuring cup (2 cup) to mix the dough
Measure out 1 cup AP flour
Salt and pepper the flour
Add 1/4 cup egg beaters (or one egg)
Add a splash of milk (less than a quarter cup)
Now stir this with a fork. It's hard work and it looks like a mess but it will come together. If too wet (loose) add a tiny bit of flour. If too thick (add a touch more milk). It should resemble a really wet, sticky dough.
Now mix in the chopped herb of your choice about a tablespoon or less.
Now mix in 2 Tablespoons grated cheese. I used Kraft Parm in the green shakey cheese can. Any hard, grated cheese will work. Use your favorite.
Mix it all again. Your arm should be getting tired.
The water will be boiling.
Get two teaspoons from the flatware drawer (not a measuring spoon).
Dip one spoon in the boiling water then into the bowl of dough.
Scoop a half spoonful of dough and then scrape it into the boiling water with the other spoon.
It doesn't matter what the dumplings look like. Mine aren't pretty.
Keep scooping and scraping until all the dough is used up and then stir the dumplings in case some one has decided to stick to the pan bottom. Let the water return to a boil and then boil for a couple of minutes. Drain. They can sit and wait till you are ready to eat.
My son is probably reading this and running to get some water boiling because he is thinking, hey, this sounds like spatezle and I love those little German dumplings.
These are Bohemian or Czech dumplings. I made them to go into my mother's AWFUL soups. The soup was this gray watery color (like dirty wash water) no matter what kind she made and the dumplings were that color when served. But we (my brothers and I) savoured the dumplings. I remember we left the dumplings to the last and then ate them to sort of erase the soup from our tongues.
I had some in my vegetable soup yesterday and found them to be chewy and quite "peasant" like in their simplicity. And they tasted good. For a more cheesy dumpling experience, butter the hot dumplings and sprinkle with more cheese and just eat them without any soup. That's what my son will be doing after reading this post.
I had a good day at work. My boss spoke to me three or four times. Like I existed. It was fascinating. And he told me "special" coffeecake is coming from Falmouth for the class. No Walmart cookies on Saturday. Coffeecake. Special coffeecake. I am very interested.
Tomorrow I have to dig up a clump of Siberian Iris, a clump of Bearded Iris and some Lily of the Valley (out of my yard) for our class on dividing perennials. N has a clump of Hosta and one of Daylilies. We have 45 minutes to sort all that out. I usually run longer. And tomorrow I have three handouts to copy and staple. Twenty people have signed up so far. It's going to be stinking hot on Saturday. Near 90 degrees which means close to 100 in the greenhouse. Good Times. I will make 35 copies of everything. I like to give the class attendees lots of great info. I hope 10% of them actually read it.