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Each week, Jennifer Chandler shares recipes, menu ideas, and tips on eating local – anything food-related is on the menu!Tuesdays7:49 a.m.8:49 a.m.4:48 p.m.6:48 p.m.

Warming up in January

Justin Fox Burks

It’s not surprising to me that January is National Soup month.

Nothing is more comforting on a chilly winter day than a steamy bowl of soup.

My favorite is a creamy tomato soup. Add a warm grilled cheese sandwich, and you have a marriage made in heaven.

For years I used a recipe that called for roasted Roma tomatoes as the base of the soup. Roasting the tomatoes intensified the tomato flavor.

One day, I was craving a bowl of tomato soup but only had canned tomatoes. I decided to give it a try with the ingredients I had on hand.

And guess what?! It was just as delicious.

When you think about it, it makes sense. Canned tomatoes are picked and then canned at the peak of ripeness. They are full of that delicious summer tomato flavor. The reason for roasting in my other recipe was to transform those bland not-in-season tomatoes into tasty summer ones.

I am so glad I experimented with what was in my pantry. No more roasting tomatoes to make soup for me. I can now make one of my favorite soups in 45 minutes less time than I did before!

Most days I use whole canned tomatoes. To make it creamy, I puree the soup with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can easily puree your soup in a counter-top blender.

For a short-cut, use canned crushed tomatoes and skip the pureeing step.

And here’s a fun twist! Instead of serving the sandwich on the side, try cutting it up and using the cheesy squares as croutons!

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Creamy Tomato Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion (1/2 small onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, thyme, and sugar and stir to combine. Pour in the chicken stock and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the soup has thickened, about 20 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 6.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler.

Jennifer Chandler graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris at the top of her class. She is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks.