Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Simple, Warming Soup

For all the time that I have been cooking on a regular basis, I have been a one-dish kind of gal. No matter how much I would love to spend hours cooking up a delicious spread, life usually hands me about 45-60 minutes to put dinner on the table. No wonder then, that the most beloved recipes in my repertoire are the ones that combine grains and vegetables and legumes or eggs all together in one happy pot. I love the efficient nature of one-dish meals, and am always thrilled to find a new one that we love.

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.

Tomato Soup

(Adapted from "How To Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman, makes about 4 servings)
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!


  1. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is a classic that's always welcome! :)

  2. Nupur, Happy V.D!! Loved the writeup, (I too used to b one-dish dame, few years ago...then 'Hubby' happened..:D so ever since hv been two-dish + )
    The soup truly looks scrumptious, the cheese grilled sandwitch makes me more hungry...loveeed Dale sun-bask-pose..pls plant a kiss on his forehead on my bhalf n wish him a HVD frm me as well!(lol@last line)

  3. Thanks for participating in our event. Beautiful soup!

  4. that looks lovely. a nice addition to my soup recipe collection :)

  5. Nupur, grilled cheese is mouthwatering, got to try it once. your balck fur coat looks very cute and innocent.

  6. Tomato soup (canned) and grilled cheese sandwiches (with American cheese) were one of the classic lunches my mother would make when we were kids. There is still something supremely comforting about that combination -- kicked up a bit with homemade soup and sandwiches made with interesting cheeses.

  7. SOOOO CUTE! love the idea of a simple dish like grilled cheese sammy and soup :o) Happy v day dear.

  8. Yum, yum! You know what, I am getting to use some gorgeous fresh tomatoes here in Bangalore this time of the year! I went out vegetable shopping this past weekend and was absolutely thrilled! And I bought a couple of pounds (1 kg!) of beautiful tomatoes for Rs.10! And I got some fresh basil, so we had tomato basil soup for almost two days! I wish I had known about this event. I'll still try to make it - my blog is dying for updates! :)
    The grilled cheese with soup looks scrumptious!

  9. I love Dale's happy smile!
    And I love tomato soup. I always wondered if low-fat milk would separate when mixed into tomato soup - I guess the answer is no.
    Thanks for this recipe.

  10. ah! grilled cheese s/w & tomato soup, the classic, can never tire of this! i too make sure there are leftovers for lunch ;)

  11. The grilled cheese sandwiche looks so delicious and the soup too

  12. I am with u the one pot meals Nupur! Love those for our weekday dinners or weekend meals! And our meals also end up being two dish meals - usually raitas and indian koshimbirs!
    The soup and sandwich look heavenly for cold days! Do u think V would oblige in sharing his recipe for those yummy looking sandwiches! What cheese do you use in them? I use grated monteray jack in mine and thye are usually so goey... yours looks more white!

  13. oh it looks so yum..
    we love our tomato soups ,nevr tried making with milk though ..
    something new to me ,will try this out ..
    thanks ...
    hugs and smiles

  14. Hi Nupur,
    love the soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

  15. Tomato soup is my all time FAV!! Those grilled s'wiches are yummm!!

    And as usual !! DALE!!!!! he just made my day!! He looks soooooooooooo good! Happy Hearts Day (belated) to u Dale!!! and U & V too!!

  16. Love tomato soup in any form. The soup looks great with the sandwhich. I am a stay at home mom and so have a lot of time to cook. So its usually sabji roti dahi for lunch and two dish dinner.

  17. grilled cheese sandwich and hot yumm tomato soup!!! wow!! thats one warming combo!! n loved Dale's pose!! :) more belly rubs for him..:):)

  18. Mmmmm, can almost smell the soup...delicious!! Love the grilled cheese too.

  19. Soup 'n sandwich looks wonderful Nupur! I love the idea of adding fresh veggies to grilled cheese!

    Adorable Dale and Pinkie (my black cat) have the same lounging habits I see ;)

    Have a great weekend!

  20. Kalai, isn't the the truth! :)

    Purnima, I planted the kiss, and Dale blushed :D he wants to thank you!

    Lisa, thanks for hosting it!

    Nags, glad you like it :)

    Sreelu, yes, if you like cheese, you have got to try it. yes, Dale can act very innocent but I assure you he is a little devil :)

    Lydia, absolutely- it just is a soul-satisfying combination! I can totally see why it has such wide-spread and everlasting appeal.

    AnuZi, yes, sometimes simple is what we crave :)

    Roopa, I bet you are enjoying tomatoes (and lots of other awesome produce) there in Bangalore! The event is about vegetarian soups=so you still have time to participate if you would like to!

    Kamini, we would have happy smiles too, if someone let us lounge in the winter sun all day :D
    The milk- I added it after turning off the heat, and it did not curdle. If I boiled the soup after adding milk, perhaps it would have curdled a bit.

    Richa, me neither- can't ever tire of this combination :)

    Happy Cook, thank you!

    Latha, yes, raitas and koshimbirs are such a tasty way to eat fresh raw vegetables!
    V's recipe is a secret but I forced it out of him, just for you :D he uses pepper jack or sharp cheddar or a combination: melts a little butter in a heavy pan, placed the sandwich on it, tops with a dollop of butter and then places another heavy pan on top (basically a low-tech panini press) and cooks until crispy and browned.
    This pepper jack is white and not yellow, and the artificial light makes it look even whiter in the picture.

    Jaya, the milk is quite my taste, it makes the soup taste creamy and smoother.

    Vineela, thanks :)

    Manasi, Dale wanted to ask you to be his valentine :D Good to know that you are a tomato soup fan too!

    Vimmi, sabji roti dahi...that is my idea of the perfect lunch!

    Mythreyee, thank you!

    Superchef, yes, it cheered us up in this dreary winter weather :)

    Namratha, glad you like it!

    Linda, the veggies add such crunch and flavor to grilled cheese; makes a good thing even better. In summer, fresh tomatoes are great too, in grilled cheese.
    Pinkie: such an adorable name. Our Dale has a lot of kitty-cat habits :D Enjoy your weekend!

  21. The opening lines of your post ring so true! Lovely soup, btw: simple and comforting, and very enticing too, along with those HOT looking grilled cheese sandwiches! YUMMY!

    And i agree with you about the very broad definition of soup and salad, a good koshimbir and rasam combo is just as enticing to me :).

    The handsome Dale enjoying the sun, now that's the best way to enjoy a weekend :-D.

  22. hello nupur,sure is delicious.butis it I ndian soup?can you give some Indian soup

  23. The tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich look so welcoming. I love your recipe for the grilled cheese with veggies, thanks!

    Dale sure looks happy sunning himself at his favourite spot.

  24. Dale really knows how to have a good time.

  25. You should try the "What Kind of Sandwich Are You?" quiz! It claims I am a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Dale appears to be laughing with
    glee to be in a sunny spot!

  26. wow!! i am sure we need this for this winter here!!awesome

  27. Hey..I am a fan of ur blog.Culd u post the recipe for the grilled swiches too? I dont know how but I always ruin my Grilled sandwiches..May be u or V could help me out here...........

  28. Nupur - if you only saw the smile on my face - the reason? Well because I like to see when my fave bloggers and I float on the same wave length. This is my type of food AND this is what I was planning to post soon too. Hehehe!

  29. I see a nice grilled cheese sandwich near the soup...:D:d Please share the recipe for that as well:)

  30. Who can resist this Nupur, that too after seeing the picture. Very nice presentation. You are well balanced in writing, recipes, taking photos and presenting. I admire you for that. Have a good day. Viji

  31. Musical, yes, rasam is just the most appetizing "soup" I can think of!

    CT Payong, Most Indian cuisines do not have dishes called "soup" but there are many classic Indian dishes that I enjoy as soup. Try searching for these names and you might find some recipes you like: rasam, kadhi, shorba, saar.
    In addition, you can look at two posts on this blog if you like:
    this one and this one

    Namita, "welcoming" is just the word for this combo! Dale is wagging "hello" to you :)

    Cynthia, he sure does!

    Moon Rani, well, you must be a popular person in that case! Dale is laughing because he can stay home and nap while the rest of us have to go out and earn a living :D

    Deepa, Glad you like it :)

    Anon, please check this post for a recipe.

    Meeta, you too?! Can't wait to see your version, which I am sure will be completely eye-popping!

    Smita, it is the same recipe as the one in this post with some shredded veggies added to it.

    Viji, thank you, my dear, for your sweet words!

  32. Came back here to look for V's recipe for those yummy grilled cheese sandwiches!
    Pepper jack is on my next grocery list for sure!
    Thanks to u and V!

  33. Hi Nupur, made tomato soup last evening! I loved it!! Now the second round will be with V's recipe of grilled s'wich! Thank U!

  34. Hi Nupur, tried the tomate soup recipe - turned out awesome. Thanks! The grilled cheese looks dripping in deliciousness! Do you have V's grilled cheese recipe somewhere too? Could you please link it up?

  35. The soup sounds so simple and yummy! It is going to be my comfort food tonight, perfect with Houston's late evening thunderstorm forecast

  36. loved the cheese s/w...liked dale's expression better....wonder who's luckier...him to have you or you to have him?? i miss my dog!! :(

  37. Lovely blog Nupur. Am gonna try out the tomato soup recipe you have written.

    Dale looks adorable. Ihave a female lab at home.

  38. I love one pot meals but a side dish can add variety and more vegetables so I probably do a bit more side dishes these days than I used to - I love your soup but I crave those sandwiches - we love melted cheese on toast but have never thought to have it with onion and cabbage as well

  39. Cheese in tomato soup is new for me. Sounds good so shall try it.

  40. For a switch try a grilled peanut butter sandwich - also good with vegetables (but no banana, please....)

  41. Winters has just started and I welcomed winter winter with your tomato soup. It's really delicious.


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