Traditionally this was a time of tightening belts and for many, after the festive season, it might still be today. Needing to be careful as there is little to eat beyond what has been preserved through the year can feel familiar if Covid-19 had an effect on income and/or expenses last year.
I am lucky to live in a location in Canada, where hothouses grow peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. It doesn’t change the prices at the local market, however many of these locations have little booths outside where a bag of four peppers can be had for $2.00, all on trust. The stock was on sale for $1.88 and the tin of diced tomatoes was a bulk purchase made early last year. Everything else is basic to this household, so several meals for under $5.00 total. An example of what fits right into the season leading up to Imbolc, quick and simple to make, warming to the tummy and cost effective.
I leave adding the stock until the end, that way there is tomato sauce for pasta (which we had last night topped with Parmesan) and tomato soup for later in the week.
1 can diced tomatoes
2 bell peppers
2 roasted garlic cloves
hot pepper sauce to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 – 2 cups vegetable stock
1-2 slices of your bread of choice
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. dried chives
1/4 tsp. onion powder
With gratitude in your heart, take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes for a moment. Allow your shoulders to relax, let go of any nigglies so that it is easier to bring your awareness into the present moment. Find your purpose for this meal and begin.
Big chunks are just fine. Everything is thin and there will be a blender stick at the end.
Yes, for the very observant, the pot is sitting on the carpet by the door in the picture. The light is so dreary here. We are living through ongoing grey and rain filled daylight hours right now. In the pot are the canned diced tomatoes, fresh vegetables and garlic.
Using roasted garlic has been lovely this last year. The person that does not like garlic has complimented the dishes, so if you have the same issue try roasting several bulbs and storing them in the fridge.
Do not try to take a picture.
Add the hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
Add the olive oil and butter. Stir to melt and combine.
Using a blender or blending stick, puree until smooth or at least as smooth as you would like it to be. I like to have a little bit of something to chew.
In a class a couple of years ago, we had a discussion about adding fats to tomato sauce. Around the room, those of Italian descent used either straight butter or a mixture of both.
Add 1 cup of vegetable stock. Take a little out, cool and taste. Adjust the seasoning and viscosity to your preferences.
To make the croutons, cube one or two slices of your choice of bread. Some people like to cut the crusts off. We generally leave them on.
Toast the cubes making sure not to burn.
While they are toasting, melt the butter in a frying pan and add the chives. Do this under a medium/low heat as the intention is to steep the chives, not cook them. Add the onion powder.
The decision as always is yours, enough croutons for a garnish or will there be a need for a side bowl of extras?
Cooked tomatoes are a major source of the antioxidant lycopene. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Bell peppers also contain, vitamin C, potassium and folate as well as Vitamin A, fiber, and iron.
Cooking them fresh, in season, grown in good earth, will increase the food value of any vegetable. The “soup” is easily freezerable (it’s a word, right?) without the added stock, taking up less space in the freezer.
Tomatoes are hot when cooking. A tongue can easily be burned as they take extra time to cool down.
For that reason, I generally serve tomato based soups in a soup plate which are wider and more shallow. They help the soup cool down more quickly.