Many of the chefs on television are known for recommending the use of fresh ingredients over their jarred and bottled counterparts. ReaLemon, jarlic, and the ever popular green shaker parmesan are no-nos in a real chef's kitchen, sayeth the powers that be over at the Food Network. I do try to follow their recommendations for the most part, so when I kept seeing recipes that called for San Marzano tomatoes, I began searching for them at my local grocery stores. I erroneously thought that San Marzano was a brand name however, like Campbells or Hunts, and I was unsuccessful at finding them. After researching these canned tomatoes on the internet, I discovered that San Marzano tomatoes are a specific variety of plum tomato grown in Italy. The volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius is supposedly conducive to the growing of these sweeter and less acidic tomatoes. Now that I knew what I was looking for, I started searching in earnest, and I finally located them at a Meijer store in Indianapolis. Once I got past the sticker shock (a 28 oz can cost me over $5.00!) I brought the treasured can home and started thinking about how I was going to use them. Obviously I wanted to use them in a recipe where tomatoes were the star ingredient and that's how this tomato soup recipe came to be.
San Marzano Tomato Soup
2 Tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion, diced 2 stalks celery (with leaves) diced 1 carrot, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tablespoons tomato paste salt and pepper 1 (28 oz) can of whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes 2 (14 1/2 oz) cans of Muir Glen crushed fire roasted tomatoes 3 cups chicken broth 1 bay leaf 1/2 cup whole grain brown rice 6 oz. 2% Velveeta cheese, cubed 2 cups half and half (I used fat-free)
In soup pot saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic (seasoned with salt and pepper) in olive oil until onion is softened, approximately 5 minutes. Add in tomatoes, chicken broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for around 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. Remove bay leaf. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree to a smooth consistency. Return soup to pot, bring back to a boil and add rice. Reduce heat, cover and cook until rice is tender (per the directions of whatever type of rice you're using.) Remove from heat and add in cheese cubes. Stir until cheese is melted completely and soup is smooth. Stir in half and half.
This is my documentation of my life after turning 50. Lots of recipes, some healthy, some not so much... tossed up with a hefty dose of sarcasm and motherly love.
My email address: maggielauerrdh(at)yahoo.com