Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cool weather, warm food

As we had our first "cold-front" and the temperature here in Texas dropped into the 40s, everyone quickly pulled out their scarves, heavy coats and even some people pulled out their gloves.  As we left for work for our lunch break, we all decided since it was "so cold," that we needed something warm- soup!  We drove over to Panera which apparently everyone in Dallas thought the exact same thought.  The parking lot was jammed & there was not a free table.  Every tray that I saw go by had soup on it.  I got the creamy Tomato soup with chunks of Sourdough bread in it:

Tomato, Cheese and Bread Soup

8ounces crusty Sourdough croutons
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
9garlic cloves, minced
3large onions, finely chopped
8cups chicken stock or low-salt chicken broth
228oz cans peeled plum tomatoes, drained and crushed
1/4cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Parmesan Reggiano rind (optional)
1/4cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (for garnish)
1/4cup Parmesan cheese shavings
1/4cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

 in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until very tender, about 25 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute. Add chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, cheeses and cheese rind. Simmer soup uncovered 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. For smoother texture, puree in blender or food processor before serving.

Ladle soup into Panera Bread Sourdough bread bowls. Add croutons, torn basil, and Parmesan cheese shavings just before serving.


So as the season starts to change into fall & colder temperatures, there are just certain foods that sound so great that I always look forward to.  
  1. Hot Chocolate- My favorite: Williams Sonoma Hot Chocolate (worth every penny & the extra time on the stove)
  2. Soups & Chili- I was always intimidated to make soups, but it is quite easy.  You can start almost any soup with a little olive oil in the bottom of a pan & then throw in some diced onion, celery & carrot (the french call it a mirepoix, but who really cares).  A lot of soup recipes called for diced or crushed tomatoes.  I like to throw these in for a little kick: Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (can find these at Central Market & Tom Thumb).  Then just follow your favorite recipe or combine a few together that sound good.
  3. Baked Goods- I guess because the holidays are getting close, I figure "Hey, maybe this year, I'll bake cookies for everyone I know!"  Yea right...  But I do tend to bake a bit more around the house at least.
Hope you are enjoying some of fall's foods!

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