Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fixing All The Things: homemade bread and roasted tomato soup

I've designated January as the Month of Fix All The Things.  If an item or situation doesn't work, I am either getting rid of it or fixing it or replacing it so that it works.  This is a William Morris post in itself, but today I will just tell about one fix-it endeavor: the immersion blender.

My kids are adamant about not eating lumpy soup, whether the lumps be beans or chicken or vegetables or any other delicious thing one might put in a soup.  Thus I have blended soups in our tiny, 2 cup Cuisinart food processor.  This tiny processor was great for making small batches of pesto, but not so great for pureeing large batches of soup.

Last month I broke the tiny Cuisinart by dropping it on the ground. I bought a slightly larger, 3 cup Kitchenaid food processor.  It pureed more soup, but still, not a lot.  And then, a light bulb went off over my head--why don't I get an immersion blender?

Yes, I pureed large batches of soup in a 2 cup food processor for seven years before it occurred to me to get an immersion blender.

So I perused the internets, which offered up this fancy and awesome immersion blender.  Last night I pureed soup in less than a minute with no mess or spilling of boiling liquids.  Hallelujah!  The technology that mankind can come up with these days!

I'm pretty sure we got an immersion blender as a wedding gift ten years ago but I think I donated it because I didn't willingly cook before I had children.

Since I now have the power to blend soup without mess (what superpower did you get?), I made a delicious roasted tomato soup, loosely based on this recipe from Ina Garten.  But I didn't have four cups of basil sitting around and I added a bunch of other stuff, so....thanks Ina Garten for giving me the recipe to build on.

Roasted Tomato Soup
10 plum tomatoes (you could use more, but 10 plum tomatoes is how many fits in my baking pan)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (that's according to Ina, I just toss in a whole bunch)
1 tablespoon salt (I never measure, I just salt till it tastes good. A tablespoon is the bare minimum. .)
1 tsp black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 head of garlic
1 zucchini, grated
1 package pureed butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 28-oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 32-oz box of chicken stock
1 tsp dried basil (use way more if you like. I would use at least a cup of fresh basil if I had it.)
1 tsp crushed rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Slice the plum tomatoes in half, spread in one layer on baking sheet, and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cut off the top of the head of garlic, drizzle the exposed garlic with olive oil, and place on the baking sheet exposed garlic side up.  Roast for 45 minutes.

2. If your pureed butternut squash is frozen, defrost it in the microwave. (You could also roast fresh cut up butternut squash while you are roasting the tomatoes.  I used roasted squash last time I made it, since they were leftovers in the fridge.  This time I only had frozen stuff, so that's what we used.)

3.  In a large pot, saute the onions and grated zucchini in 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter, until onions turn translucent.

4. Add the canned tomatoes, chicken stock, butternut squash, basil and and rosemary. Add the roasted tomatoes, including the liquid in the baking sheet.  Scrape out the roasted garlic from the husks and put in the pot.

4. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Add some more salt, if you think it needs it. (I do. I salt it till it tastes good.)

5. Use your fancy new immersion blender to puree the hot soup.

I think this soup would take very well to having pureed carrots and celery in it, if you were so inclined.

Homemade Bread!
Peter and Princess love this soup.  I think they really love it because I serve it with a fresh loaf of homemade bread for dipping.  We have been using this recipe from Mark Bittman.  It is incredibly easy--its flour, yeast, water and salt mixed in a bowl and walk away.  Its incredibly delicious, as long as you don't mind the fact that you have to start making it 20 hours before you eat it.

My notes on the bread--if you don't have an oven-safe dish with a lid, we have simply been making it in a pyrex ceramic pan covered with tin foil, and it has come out fine.  A bit dense, probably because the tin foil is not providing quite enough trapping of heat, but its still tasty and quite good.  We just ordered a pan with a lid since we make this bread so frequently.

I don't dust it with cornmeal or bran as the recipe suggests. Also, rather than flipping the dough onto a towel, as suggested, I just take the dough out of the bowl, flour it up, flip it, put more flour in the bowl, and put it back in.  It is much easier to clean a floured bowl than a floury towel.  It can be a juggling maneuver to take it out and then put it back in the original bowl, though, so you could easily start by flouring a second bowl and tossing it in there, rather than one-handedly flouring up with original bowl.

Mark Bittman put out a video with Jim Lehey (the guy who came up with the original bread recipe that Mark Bittman published in his NY Times column) noting that you could add a 1/4 tsp of red wine vinegar and use very warm water and decrease your rise time from 12 hours to 4 hours, which would mean you could make this in the morning and still have it in time for dinner.  The video is unclear as to whether you need to flip the bread over and rise for an additional two hours, like in the original recipe.  I tried it (with the flip over) and it came out very wet and dense (sigh), so we have been sticking to the original recipe.

We make the mix at night before going to bed, usually around 10 pm.  I flip the dough the next day around 2 pm, and put it in the oven around 4, so we can eat it around 5.  Obviously this is not a great recipe if you are not around in the middle of the day.  My inlaws make two batches on the weekend, and eat it during the week; it keeps well if tightly wrapped.

We have a lot of after-school commitments lately, so I've been on the hunt for recipes that are either short or are soups I can make in a crockpot.  Share your favorite soup recipe, if you are so inclined?

I'm linking up to Pancakes and French Fries William Morris Project.


  1. I've made that bread before, and it is delicious! Good tip on not using a floured towel - that was my least favorite part (that, and waiting 20 hours for tasty bread). My current favorite recipe is a Baked Potato Soup from I had never tried the cauliflower-as-substitute-for-potato trick until this recipe (disclaimer, the recipe DOES contain potato, too), but my entire family has found it to be quite yummy. And I use my immersion blender to smooth it all out! A win all around!

  2. That soup- and bread for that matter, sound amazing!! And I got one of those immersion blenders for my bday this year from my sister- LOVE IT!

  3. You had me at homemade bread! I'm literally salivating at the thought. Anyway, I've only made soup once. There's a kick ass tomato soup at a restaurant in LA and they posted the recipe in the paper. I tried it and it wasn't nearly as good...bastards left out something. I just added a bunch of butter,cream, and curry powder and ended up winning a soup contest at some party my husband and I went to. I'll never be able to recreate it but it was amazing. Of course it was. It had butter and cream in it.

  4. Wow homemade bread! I'm impressed. I'm going to try this soup for sure. - Brandy

  5. I tried the bread this weekend and it came out great! I had a hard time shaping the loaf and getting it into the hot pot, but it still worked. My MIL is a cancer patient and is having a hard time with food. She had 2 pieces!

  6. My latest soup is Trader Joe's chicken japeno sausage sliced into coins and browned, some celery and carrots diced and sauteed if you have them, big dices of sweet potato, and a whole package of baby kale. If I'd had a Parmigianno rind I would have put that in there as well. DELICIOUS.

    I also make a many-bean chili with hominy in it that kicks ass.


Yay! You're commenting! I love comments!