There’s nothing like the first whiff of the holiday season to make you miss the ones you’ve lost. And the food they made. Like my dad Ray’s Simple Tomato soup.
Today is Starbucks Red Cup day – for me, that’s when the countdown to the holiday season starts in earnest. And, of course, there’s no time I miss my Dad more. This will be the 14th Christmas without him.
It’s true what they say, times does heal all wounds. At the same time, it makes the memories richer. Like my memory of a pot of hot soup on the first day there’s a chill in the air.
My dad wasn’t an excellent cook, but he wasn’t bad. And he could turn a few simple things into meals that still find a way to warm my heart.
Tonight I made his Tomato Macaroni Soup. I added a few little touches (garlic and broth) but it’s pretty much the same as he used to make back when I was too small to peek into the pot.
Ray’s Simple Tomato soup
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion
1 lg can diced tomatos
1 can water or broth (use the can from the tomatoes to measure)
1 can tomato sauce (or 1/2 jar)
A sprinkle of basil, oregano, fresh ground pepper or whatever vaguely italian seasoning you have on hand
1 crush clove of garlic
1 cup dry pasta (give or take – I eyeball it)
Chop the onion and celery. Place in microwave safe bowl with the butter and ‘nuke’ on high for 2 min 30 sec.
Meanwhile put the tomatoes and water or broth in a large pot. Throw in whatever spice you have on hand. Crush the garlic into the mixture. Add some tomato sauce from a tin or a jar.
Add the onion, celery, butter mixture to the pot.
Cook on medium-high heat until the soup begins to bubble.
Reduce the head and simmer for about 20 min.
After 20 min, add the pasta to the soup. Turn up the heat to achieve a gentle boil. You may need to add more water to maintain the ‘soup’ consistency once the pasta starts to cook.
Stir frequently to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Let the pasta cook a little longer than al dente to get a nice squishy soup noodle.
Variations include adding salsa instead of sauce, adding tomato juice instead of water or broth, adding browned ground beef (making it ‘hamburger soup’), adding cooked chicken and garnishing with cheese and avacado…the possibilities are endless.
If you keep leftovers, be prepared to have the noodles suck up all the juice. You can make the pasta separately and combine the soup and the noodles in each bowl – which does improve the state of the dish on the second day if you like a soupy soup. I usually just add water or broth the second day to rejuvenate the soup factor.
To me this is the ultimate comfort food. I hope you find some comfort here too.