Thursday, January 13, 2011

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Soup with Thyme

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.  I recited this to myself as I watched this soup simmer, resisting the familiar urge to reach into the spice cabinet and dump more seasonings in.  Stop.  Breathe.  Keep it simple

I'm beginning to realize how vital this concept is in culinary pursuits.  Cooking need not involve lots of heavy machinery or fifteen different spices which will only confuse your palate.  Food can be uncluttered without sacrificing flavor.

This is a soup for a cold, gray day (if possible, hold out for a snowy one) - not just for its color, which will inject some brightness into the bleakness of winter, but also for its vivid taste, which delights afresh with each bite.  The thyme and sun-dried tomatoes are perfect together, giving each other space but merging beautifully at the same time. 

It is simple, but there is no flavor sacrificed in this soup. Best of all, you can serve it to almost anyone, as it is gluten-free and vegan.

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Soup with Thyme (Adapted from Food and Wine)
Serves 2 - 3

1 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. minced or crushed garlic
2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (the kind packed in oil), drained and coarsely chopped
1 large tomato, diced
3 cups gluten-free vegetable or chicken broth (such as Trader Joe's or Pacific brands)
6 - 7 whole fresh thyme sprigs, divided
1/2 - 1 cup soy creamer (to taste/texture)
1 tsp. brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
You will also need:  A food processor or blender

In a medium-sized pot, melt the Earth Balance and olive oil together over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 4 - 5 minutes or until the onion is becoming translucent.  Add the diced tomato, sun-dried tomato, chicken broth, and 4 whole thyme sprigs to the pot.  Bring ever-so-briefly to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer over medium-low heat for at least 20 minutes, but up to 35 or 40 minutes if you have the time.

Remove the whole sprigs of thyme and discard.  In batches (depending on the size of your food processor), puree the soup as finely as possible.  Return to the pot.  Add the soy creamer (adding more if necessary or if you want it to be especially creamy), add the brown sugar, and then season with salt and pepper to your own taste.  Take the remaining 2 - 3 sprigs of thyme and pull off the tiny leaves and sprinkle into the soup.  Serve with hot garlic bread or this grilled cheese.  It also goes quite well with Roasted Red Pepper Mini Meatloaves.

You can make this ahead of time and store in the fridge for a day or two until you're ready to serve it.  Heat over medium-low heat for about 10 - 15 minute until it is warmed through. 

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