But this weekday dinner rule has changed somewhat in the past few months. I now focus on making two-dish meals. The second dish is one of three- a soup, a salad or a roasted/stir-fried vegetable dish. I use the terms "soup" and "salad" in their most general sense; the former would include a kadhi or rasam and the latter is some concoction with raw vegetables- as likely to be koshimbir and raita as anything else. The two-dish rule has resulted in many good changes: I can go easy on wolfing down the "main dish" and take second helpings of the side dish instead; it makes it much more likely that we will have enough leftovers for two complete lunches; and we get a chance to enjoy more servings of vegetables. Most importantly, these second dishes add nothing to my cooking time because they are the simplest of recipes that take minutes to put together.
So I am very excited that two blogs, Lisa's Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes have started an event called No Croutons Required with a simple theme: vegetarian soups and salads.
Here is our simple yet exquisitely satisfying meal from a couple of nights ago. Grilled cheese and Tomato soup. To stretch the calorie-heavy cheese, we shred it rather than carve it out in hunks. We also stuff the sandwiches with shredded vegetables- this time it was onion, cabbage and a poblano pepper. I say "we" but I mean V- he makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches I have ever tasted. The cream of tomato soup contains no cream whatsoever except for a swirl on top; a less-than-successful attempt at food styling. In honor of one of the hosts, the soup is made with tinned tomatoes! Also because there are no decent fresh tomatoes within a few hundred miles of here at this time. I love tomato soup but don't like it when it is mouth-puckeringly tart, as tomatoes sometimes are. Here, a little bit of milk and some sugar balance out the flavors.
1. In a pot, heat 1 T extra-virgin olive oil.
2. Add 1 sliced onion, 1 diced carrot, salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables start getting soft.
3. Add 2 C tomatoes (fresh or canned), 1.5 C vegetable stock (or water), 2 t sugar and 1 t dried oregano (use any favorite fresh or dried herb here).
4. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Turn off the heat, add 0.5 C low-fat milk, then blend the soup leaving it as chunky or smooth as desired. Serve piping hot.
More soup inspiration...
20 ideas for simple soups from the Washington Post blog that illustrate how soups can be rustled up from pantry staples.
Watching your weight? Eat soup! from Susan over at FatFree Vegan Kitchen.
Here's one way to deal with bone-chilling winter weather: don your favorite jet-black fur coat* and bask on the comfy futon by the sunny window...
*No furry creatures were harmed in the writing of this post. One furry beast did get a belly rub.
Happy Valentine's Day!