Monday, September 23, 2013

Rustic Tomato Florentine Soup

I've been working on this recipe for quite a while now.  It's inspired by my favorite soup at a local cafe/bakery.  I can not go to this place and not order this.  It is so good.  I really wanted to make this at home and with a little help from a friendly waitress, I think I've finally got it right. It certainly is the most delicious tomato soup I've every made.

Part of what makes this soup so wonderful is the rustic flavor that comes from leaving the vegetables chunky and not pureeing the soup, which seems to be common practice among tomato soups.

I was lucky enough to have a bumper crop of grape tomatoes this year.  I need to make another batch and freeze it ASAP! I could figure out how to can tomatoes, but I'm pretty certain I'd rather stock up on this soup!

Go ahead and pin this one now! I am absolutely positive if you like tomato soup, you will love this one in all it's chunky goodness.

Rustic Tomato Florentine Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
2  bay leaves
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 cups tomato juice
2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes with juice
OR 1 can and 4 cups of grape tomatoes sliced
2 tablespoons dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 oz frozen spinach thawed OR equal amount fresh
1 1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons butter

 1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Then, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stirring occasionally until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Carefully pour in white wine, simmer until almost completely evaporated. Pour in the cans of tomatoes with their juices, or 1 can and sliced grape tomatoes.  Add tomato juice, basil and bay leaves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring soup to a boil for 1 minute. Then, reduce heat and simmer soup for 10 minutes until vegetables are tender crisp.

3. Then stir in the sugar and vinegar. Add spinach and allow it to begin to wilt.

4.  Add the half and half.  Stir in a slurry of corn starch dissolved in about a 2 tablespoons of half and half and let cook on medium low for a few minutes to thicken. 

5. Stir in butter and once it's melted it's ready to serve. Remove bay leaves. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

100% Corn Cornbread

I've tried a few different versions of gluten free cornberad and this one fits my tastes the best.  No "gluten free" flours, just corn flour and corn meal.  

 My mom actually turned me onto plain corn flour.  She and her husband use it to fry fish when I'm in town.  And it's amazing by the way.  They did a taste test and couldn't really taste a difference between their regular fish fry they mix up and the one using corn flour.

100% Corn Cornbread

1 cup corn flour, plain not a cornmeal blend
1 cup cornmeal, coarsely ground (corn grits or polenta)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or put 1 Tablespoon vinegar in your measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with milk)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. (Make "buttermilk" if you're going to do that, so it can sit a bit and do whatever it does that makes it buttermilky.).

2. Preheat oven to 425°F.

3. Combine the dry ingredients (except the soda).

4. Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk and add that to the dry ingredients.

5. Add eggs and melted butter. Stir together and pour into a muffin pan or 9x9 pan.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

 Notes: I like to use the Pampered Chef square pan to get the crunchy edges.  I think that's the best part. :)

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Monday, September 2, 2013

French Dip Sandwiches

This recipe for French Dip is simple and delicious adapted from All Recipes Cookbook.  It's one of the few recipes I will actually use a crock pot for. 

Be sure to use Gluten Free soy sauce and buns if that's an issue.  


4 lbs boneless beef roast
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 bay leaf
3 peppercorns
1 tsp dried rosemary or 3 or 4 sprigs if fresh
1 tsp dried thyme or 3 or 4 sprigs if fresh
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp original Ms Dash
Beef broth to cover roast


1. Remove and discard all visible fat. Place in crock pot.

2. Add other ingredients and cover with beef broth.

3. Cook in low for 10 hours or 3 hours on high, until easily shredded.  After shredding, return to pot for another 15-30 minutes. 

4. Serve on toasted bun topped with provolone cheese and a side of the gravy or au jus. 

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