I’m stuck at home today due to a snow day, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the ultimate winter food: soup!
Chris, Andrew, and I were supposed to meet up last night to make dinner, but it wasn’t safe to travel during the snow storm. Instead, I made soup. I had all the ingredients because I had planned to make it later in the week. Sometimes plans change though, and that is alright. Plus, I would still get to break in the new cast iron dutch oven my parents got me for Christmas.
I found this recipe for Tuscan vegetable soup on Food Network while I was searching for healthy recipes. It looked delicious and certainly a great way to pack in a bunch of vegetables. A recipe can’t possible be unhealthy when it starts with a pile of vegetables this big, can it?
I must have misread the ingredients when I made my shopping list, because I didn’t note that I needed tomatoes for this recipe. I thought that was odd when I was at the store, but I didn’t question it. I had bought some canned tomatoes for another recipe I was making. If I used those, I would have to go get some more at some later in the week. I didn’t want to go back to the store for just tomatoes.
It then occurred to me that I could use the roma tomatoes I bought for the dish I was going to make last night. We postponed our dinner plans until next weekend. These tomatoes were in no way going to last a whole week. I figured I might as well not waste them and use these in place of the canned tomatoes.
When following a recipe in cooking, everything doesn’t need to be precise. If you already have an ingredient that is similar to what the recipe calls for, you don’t need to spend money just to get the exact ingredient most of the time. The same can be applied for your grocery shopping. If a similar ingredient is cheaper or in season, it is fine to make replacements. In this case, I knew I’d just need to let the soup simmer longer so the tomatoes had a chance to cook down.
This soup was warm, delicious and full of vegetables. I am bringing that point back because this really fits in with what I am trying to do with my eating right now. Soups can be great ways to sneak in vegetables without having to make a side dish. You’ve got everything you need all in one pot.
This is definitely a light soup. To make this a meal on its own, I would have needed to add more beans. I could tell I was going to be hungry if I just ate a bowl of this. To make the meal complete, I added a half cup of cooked quinoa to the bottom of the bowl before serving. I also had a side of cottage cheese.
I ate this soup while I watched the Eagles lose their playoff game. I won’t lie. That made me feel all warm inside, and I don’t think it was just the soup. The Patriots won their game and are headed to their eighth straight AFC Championship, and the Eagles (who took out my team in the Super Bowl last year) are headed home.
Before I headed to bed, I saw that the government was going to be closed due to the weather. My work follows the government schedule, so when they don’t go to work, neither do we. I love when they post the announcement the night before, so I don’t even have to set an alarm.
I slept way longer than I intended. I was excited about getting the snow day because there was a lot I wanted to get done at home. My body must have needed the sleep though because I was out cold.
Since I was going to be home all day, I decided to make more soup. I didn’t plan on making this other soup until much later in the week. If I made it now though while I am off for the day, I wouldn’t need to worry about cooking for the rest of the week.
This next recipe is a longtime favorite of mine. It is Rachael Ray’s recipe for buffalo chicken chili. My mom has been making this for years. We would eat this primarily during football season. I now make it for myself about once a year, typically during the playoffs.
How could I go wrong with this? It is a meal that combines one of my favorite foods (buffalo chicken) with a classic comfort food (chili). The nice thing about this recipe is that is also is pretty healthy. I don’t make the blue cheese tortilla chips, so it is just the chili for me.
I improvised with this soup a little bit, as well. Instead of buying a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes and one 15 oz can of tomato sauce, I bought just one 28 oz can of diced tomatoes. I had a coupon for canned tomatoes, but it had to be 28 oz or larger. Again, This meant I would want to simmer the chili longer to allow the tomatoes to break down.
The only real difference I notice was that this was not as thick as I remembered. The tomato sauce gives this chili a nice velvety thickness. I still think it tastes fantastic. The texture is just different. When I am cooking for myself, I am okay with sacrificing one aspect of a dish if it means I don’t have to go out of my way to make it just perfectly. All the flavors were present in this dish, and it is keeping me warm on this winter day.
I may have lost a good bit of my day from sleeping, but I now have two full batches of soup to keep me warm and fed all week. That’s not a bad way to start this snowy week. Now I can focus on my other tasks.