*[ Now before I go on ranting about how cooold winter has been, I should probably admit that in real terms of freezing weather, snow storms and icy roads, our winter would be described as a beautiful summer’s day. I mean, I have friends and family who live in the Northern US who don’t see the grass for 6 months of the year! If you look back through my pictures over the last few months and see me in dresses and shorts you will probably think I am crazy for even calling what we have here in Brisbane WINTER. ]*
Upon reflection of this past winter I have come to one conclusion: There is just not much good that comes with winter. Extra short days. Weight gain. Pale pasty skin. Cold, windy beach days. I also happen to be one of those people who sleeps in a jumper, sweat pants and socks and still feels FREEZING! In fact, the only things I can think of that I actually like about winter are wood fires and soup. I just love me some nice warm soup on a cold winter's night!
I got a bit inspired the other day and decided to make homemade tomato basil soup and garlic bread- with HOMEMADE garlic butter! Along with making a huge mess, I also made a pretty good meal :)
I started by cutting up some butter in to smallish cubes. I used unsalted butter because I feel like that is what they always say to use on the cooking shows. "Always use unsalted butter when you cook so that you can add your own salt to taste". But let's be honest, I am sure you can use what ever butter you prefer.
I let it sit out on the counter so that it would soften a bit to make it easier to mix.
We usually have a few different herbs growing in our garden but since it has been winter I have been a bit slack with them. Fortunately for me though, the only two herbs I have right now are parsley and basil- the two I needed for this dish!
I picked a small handful of parsley and gave it a good chop before tossing it in with the butter.
I used our Brevill Wiz to mix the butter and parsley together because I am lazy. If you don't have one of these I am sure you can mix it by hand if your butter is soft enough.
My next step was to add some crushed garlic. Since I am not chef nor have I ever made garlic butter before, I am not sure how many gloves I actually ended up using. But let me tell you- it had PLENTY of garlic. Good thing we love garlic. Keeps those pesky vampires away!
Butter, parsley and garlic- voila, GARLIC BUTTER!
The next step was to start on my soup. I started by dicing one large brown onion and sauteing it in a pan with butter. Again, I didn't measure the butter... oops! I also added one large glove of minced garlic.
After the onions came the first of the two key ingredients- tomatoes! I used diced tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato paste and veggie stock.
I added the diced tomatoes first- two cans.
Then two small cans of tomato juice, a random amount of tomato paste (again- didn't measure!) and some vegetable stock. I just added stock until it came to a good consistency, knowing that some of it would boil off as it cooked.
Next comes the secret ingredient- SUGAR. I know, I know, it sounds strange. Why listen to the girl who doesn't cook OR measure anything, but trust me- it is necessary! Because the tomatoes are so acidic, the sugar helps to balance that out. I added about 2-3 table spoons of sugar.
I then brought it to a simmer and let it sit for a few minutes. After that I added a handful of chopped basil. I really like basil so I think I added more after that. Totally up to you- obviously!
I don't know about you, but when I cook I usually use every inch of counter space in the kitchen. I TRY to clean as I go, but sometimes that messes with my cooking chi and so today I just left the kitchen a mess as I went.
I am married to a clean freak so I usually only do this when he is busy in the shed, otherwise he will come inside and start cleaning up behind me until I get mad and kick him out. Today however, he was not home so it was a messy kitchen for me! And you know what, it felt good :)
Next I took the soup off the heat and added some cream.
I love this soup for two reasons:
1) It is super yummy and makes you feel like you are being all healthy because the two main ingredients are a vegetable and a leaf. In reality, however, the butter, cream and sugar really negate any health benefits previously stated… but it is still so yummy!
2) I love how Max says Tomato and Basil (Toe-ma-toe and B-az-al). While we both obviously have accents to the other person, this one phrase might be my favourite (and yes I just spelled- they would say "spelt"- favourite the Australian way, haha)
And there you have it my friends, creamy Toe-Ma-Toe B-Az-Al soup with garlic bread. Mmm Mmm Good!