Gluten has made a serious comeback in our house, mostly out of desperation. Baking, once a rarity, is now a daily or twice daily thing, as the little darlings (read locusts) can work through two loaves of Easiest French Bread Ever in a day. To keep everyone fed, I’m turning to old favorites I can crank out with minimal effort. I’d love to try new recipes, but now is not the time to gamble precious ingredients—especially flour, the new toilet paper—on anything that might not work out.
I’m also trying to make mornings more pleasant by getting ahead of the breakfast curve the night before: making granola; mixing up batter for popovers, blueberry muffins, victory bran muffins; or stirring together the dough for Maple Oat Breakfast Bread.
All those freshly baked goods may earn you some peace and joy in the morning, but by lunchtime—just when the coffee is worn off—it turns out you also need something to go with the carbs.
Fortunately, for inspiration we have the chain letter of favorite recipes that’s pin-balled through everyone’s inbox a few times already during lockdown. If you want a deep dive into why we do these chain letters, here you go (Thanks NoPo, for being on the pulse with this analysis). I went looking through the emails for a soup that could be ready in less than an hour, without adding to the kitchen mess.
A lot of favorite recipes are labeled as “best” and “easiest,” tall claims that make it hard to choose what to try first: Best, easiest, best, easiest. It will surprise nobody that I opted for the one, from cousin Michelle, entitled “Easiest Tomato Soup.”
A quick look at the ingredient list confirmed that this would satisfy the recipe trifecta, by being: easy, cheap and requiring no trip to the store. I’ve been burned by minimalist recipes that taste like they are missing ingredients and steps, so I wanted to see just how good this was, exactly as written. I resisted every urge to add a little bit of this or that, things like: Maple syrup; a glug of sherry; a squeeze of basil from those yummy herb tubes; a splash of cream.
For a serial recipe tweaker this abstinence was tough, but I did it. I am so glad I did, because I can now attest that this soup over delivers on its promise. Maybe the simplicity is why it is so good, though it must also have to do with cooking time. Don’t cheat on the 40 minute simmer—that’s where the magic happens. Confession: It was not until writing that line that I realized this is essentially a pureed version of Marcella Hazan’s pasta sauce but with garlic and broth. Mystery solved. Of course it’s good!
As further endorsement, I barely had time to stage a photo of this before my family ate the shot and then the entire batch. The next day, I doubled it, amortizing the minimal effort over even more servings.
Enjoy a bowl of this with a grilled cheese, or any of the aforementioned carbs, and consider yourself comforted…at least until dinner.
Really Truly Easiest Tomato Soup
from Michelle Prioleau
- Butter (4 tbsp)*
- White onion (1 half)
- Garlic (1 large clove)
- Canned tomatoes (2 cans)
- Chicken stock (1.5 cups)*
- Finely chop onions and mince garlic
- Melt butter in large pot. Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until onions are softened
- Add canned tomatoes and chicken stock to pot, and cook uncovered for ~40 minutes
- When done cooking, pour soup into blender and blend until smooth (an immersion blender works beautifully too.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- That’s it!
*Edie’s note here. Don’t tell my family (God knows they will never ever read a food blog), but I used fake butter and veggie “Better than Bouillon.” So, yes it can be Veganized if you like, and the carnivores won’t even notice.