The days have become real cold here. There are some beautiful warmer days scattered in between but mostly it is cold. My Mother says this winter in Kolkata is unusually cold too. But I am sure it is nothing like here. There, the cold has a distinct fragrance. If trapped in a bottle and named "Le Winter" it would smell like wood smoke, laced with sweet nolen gur, spiked with a hint of citrus-y komla-lebu, all layered on an undertone of napthalene scented kashmiri shawls.
Okay, you might also bring in smog but I like to think that the winters I spent in my Dida's house years ago almost always smelt like this. Also of slightly burn toast with orange marmalade.
Here, it just smells clean and crisp and not cold at all if you are indoors on a sunny winter day. But then you slide open the glass door to the backyard an inch and through the fine wire mesh comes the cold, brutal and sharp. But we have gotten used to it. Except for the gloomy cold days, which I dread, we kind of like the sunny wintry days. It is always about the sun , isn't it ? We get by, neither fearing winter as much as I did earlier nor looking forward to snow with as much excitement as my first time.
Of course the kids bicker about wearing jackets and boots and ear muffs and zipping the jacket all the way and other such clothing issues, I bicker about cold tiled floors and not having enough drapes for the windows yet, the husband bickers about my need to rush outside or rather make him rush outside for all kinds of groceries at odd hours.
"Why do you need vine ripened tomatoes at 8 in the evening ?", he asks.
As if, there is a time for such things.
As if the need for firm, ripe on the vine tomatoes arises after consulting the Ponjika for the right muhurtam.
As if just because tomato soup was never my thing, I can't crave a bowl of warm tomato soup now.
As if just because the only tomato soup I would ever have was the creamy deliciousness at Nagarjuna in Banglaore and whose recipe I do not know, I can never try to make another one.
As if, if a recipe is easy and can translate to quick dinner I will let that opportunity pass.
Do I look like a fool ?
But this day I had only one tomato in my refrigerator and half a can of Hunt's Diced tomatoes. And I craved a tomato soup, a hot (as in the temperature) one. Of course no sympathetic soul was venturing to get me vine ripened tomatoes shipped from Florida and currently in residence at the neighborhood grocery store. So when I saw this tomato soup, I took the plunge. And good I did, and good I had the canned version too, for this soup with a Michelin tire tomato would have not tasted half as good. Too many "good" there but that is how this soup is. The bread makes it special.
And surprisingly both the girls ate it with much eagerness. Either they were very hungry for it was a school day or this soup was good. I am sure they will refuse to eat it by the fourth time or the fifth. I can't stretch my luck. But hopefully by then I will move on to another soup.
Tomato Soup with chunks of Bread
Adapted from here
Heat some Olive oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pot.
Add 2 cloves of garlic minced and a medium sized onion finely chopped.
Saute till the onion has turned soft and pink. I also added a carrot peeled and cubed to add some sweetness to the soup but it is not in the original recipe.
Now add the tomato. I added 1 medium sized tomato chopped and about 3-4 cups of diced tomatoes from a can. Note: In an alternate version you can cut plump, juicy tomatoes in half, dust them with salt, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes in the oven for 350F. I throw in some cloves of garlic along with the tomatoes. Yellow and Red sweet peppers are another great choice.
Sprinkle salt to taste, a little paprika, 1/2 tsp of brown sugar and mix. I also added a bit of cajun seasoning which I happened to have.
Now let the tomatoes cook at a low medium heat. Stir in between and wait for the raw smell to just go evaporate.
Next add a cup of water and about 1/2cup of milk and stir to mix everything. With an immersion blender, blend the soup. Let the soup simmer to a boil. Taste at this point and adjust for seasoning.
Meanwhile, cut chunks of bread, douse them with olive oil and throw them in the toaster oven to toast. Lightly toasted is what you want, not crisp like croutons.
While serving ladle the soup out in a bowl, add grated parmesan and toss in the chunks of toasted bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and eat it to warm your chilled bones.
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