Cooking 101 - Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

{ohhhhhhhhhh} This soup is so good.  Like..."mmmm..." out loud good.  I'm a tomato lover, so that helps, too - and when you use fresh tomatoes like this, you can only imagine how flavorful this tastes.  It's the ultimate gray/winter/blah weather soup because it's warm, bright, and has rich, deep flavors.

I have this awesome cookbook by Ina Garten and the original recipe is found here, among so many others that I LOVE.  However, after cooking, tweaking, and adjusting it to my taste, I found the perfect balance.  I'm giddy to have found a recipe for the perfect tomato soup!

...and this makes your house smell ahhhhh-mazing.

adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

serves about 8 adult portions

You'll need:

3 lbs. ripe plum (Roma) tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 c. + 2 T. olive oil
1/2 T. salt
1 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
2 c. chopped yellow onion (2 medium onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. butter
1/8 t. red pepper flakes (a shake or two)
1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes with juice - (I didn't use plum, I just had diced and they worked fine)
4 c. fresh basil leaves, packed (lots, and lots of basil!)
1 t. fresh thyme leaves
1 qt. chicken stock or 4 c. water and 3.5 tsp. chicken base or 3 chicken bullion cubes
1 c. half & half or 1/2 c. heavy cream - optional but heavenly

grated asiago or parmesean cheese
sour cream
fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Using an immersion blender, or a regular blender,  blend the soup until it is smooth but still chunky.  Add the half & half or cream; adjust salt and seasonings.  If it's lacking some flavor or salt, add a small tsp. of chicken base, stir it in, and then adjust.  Sometimes chicken base can make all the difference, rather than adding salt.  The chicken base adds depth and flavor, as well.

Serve with your toppings and some amazing grilled crusty bread!  OR a grilled sandwich of any kind!  I LOVE to dip a grilled sandwich in this soup!


Happy Thoughts & Fun Printables

First,  let's have some good-humored fun, shall we?!  Because if there's anything we like, it's to have fun.

**NOTE**  Due to a scathing comment, which is not published because {ouch}, I want to make it clear that I'm seriously only having fun with this post.  I'm not trying to hurt anybody's feelings - this is all very light-hearted.  {wow}  I guess it's not funny to everyone.

Okay...back to the post...

Quick backstory:   I grew up in a teeny, tiny little town that was 3 hours from the nearest shopping mall and clothing stores.  We had:  Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Factory 2-U. All too often, my mom would come home with a shirt from Wal-Mart, off the clearance rack of course, and I'd show up to school wearing it, right alongside 32 other embarrassed, unfortunate souls.  The absolute WORST was when my shirt came from the cringe capital of the universe, Factory 2-U.  Anyone showing up in matching clothing from that place instantly buried their face into a brown paper bag and tried so hard to walk the other way!  haha.  Anyone from my hometown would totally laugh about this.

SO...maybe it's because I'm psychologically damaged from post traumatic clothing stress as a youth, but there is something within me that dies inside when I see something being obtained by thousands of women and it makes me step back and re-evaluate if I really want the latest and greatest thing in my home or not.


hahaaahaha!   good stuff.

Confession:  I actually had a print of the original-style "Keep Calm and Carry On" sign in my home up until a few days ago.  I have a love for anything during the WWII era and the message struck me.  However...I did it way back before the became all the rage and because we've beaten it to death, it's no longer unique and special to me, so I've had to replace it. {sniff}


 SUBWAY ART.  And it's all over Pinterest.  So, because I like to waste time, I created my own version!  I removed it, though because my integrity was questioned by a reader and I don't like that.  I do have it on Pinterest, though, for those of you who can handle a good laugh.

Fun, {CUTE} Printables for you!
These are *never* going to be considered tacky, by the way. 

I like the use of words - when done tastefully - in moderation.  Words can stick into our minds whether we realize it or not, so it's important to have positive words floating around wherever we can see them.  I also think it's important not to make anything PERMANENT.  Find a cheap frame, and fill it with positive images like what I've created below, and brighten up your space!  

I made this one below for my kiddies - we often talk about the importance of developing good character traits.  How wonderful if they see this sign, their spirits lift {even if it's just a little} and they are reminded once again how to be positive in a fun-loving way.  So this is what they look at whilst eating breakfast and contemplating the wonders of the world.  ....or whatever kids think about when they eat...

- all of these print on an 8.5 x 11" piece of cardstock.  I take my thumb drive to Staples and get a *nice* color copy for $1.00 each.

I'm ALWAYS telling my kids, "Well, life is hard sometimes.  You can either laugh or cry.  Either way, you are the only one who can choose how to feel."  I think it helps us put into perspective on whether we want to be whiney or not - and that includes grown-ups.  You either laugh or cry - but keep moving forward.  Right?!  Right.

Well, I hope maybe some of you will enjoy these!  Let me know if you have a special request!