Wintery Tomato Soup with Wild Rice

22 Jan

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On a cold winter’s day, can anything really beat a hot, steaming bowl of tomato soup?

(Warmer temperatures? Cuddling with Jude Law? A hot toddy? Polar fleece? Irrelevant!)

As winter has hit Washington — or rather, whacked it upside the head; hello, sub-20°F weather — I’ve found myself craving comfort food more and more. Baked pastas, roast chicken, oodles of carb-y delights (I may or may not have consumed the majority of a loaf of rye bread last week by myself. More on that later.), and above all, that so-darned-good tomato soup.

Why? It’s a classic — when you think Campbell’s canned soups, you inevitably think “tomato.” Topped with goldfish crackers, served with grilled cheese, however you like it: tomato soup pretty much tastes like childhood to most of America. even with its bright orange color and slightly scary sodium content. (Sorry, Campbell’s — I do think your low-sodium soups are totally ballin’, though.) Determined to try and “health-i-tize” this childhood favorite, I dug through my recipe books and found the perfect nominee.

This Wintery Tomato and Wild Rice Soup is fresh and flavorful. The wild rice is a fun, tasty touch, but can easily be substituted for brown rice (or, frankly, whatever you have on hand). The ingredients are mostly pantry staples, and the prep time is far less than you’d expect for a homemade zuppa. Happy slurping!

Wintery Tomato and Wild Rice Soup — serves 4 main-dish servings, or about 7.5 cups total. (Adapted from Good Housekeeping: Vegetarian Meals)

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup cooked wild rice, long grain rice, or brown rice (try Wehani or black Japonica)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium stalk celery, finely chopped (no fronds — good Bloody Mary garnish, not the tastiest soup ingredient)
  • 1 medium carrot or 4-5 baby carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 chopped or crushed clove of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 can (28 oz.) whole plum tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) vegetable broth, or 1 3/4 cups
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried parsley, lightly crushed)

Here’s what you do:

  • In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add veggies and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 10 minutes). Add garlic & thyme; cook 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes with juice, broth, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and water; raise heat to high and bring soup to boiling, breaking up whole tomatoes with the side of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree the soup contents until as smooth as desired. Alternately, spoon one-third of the mixture at a time into a blender and cover, with center part of cover removed to let steam escape. Puree until smooth; pour into a large bowl, and repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  • Return soup to saucepan if using blender; stir in cooked rice and chopped parsley.
  • Serve with Grilled Swiss & Pastrami Sandwiches on Rye (Rye + honey mustard + thinly sliced pastrami + Swiss, cooked over medium heat in a griddle until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown), or on its own as a delicious veg-friendly supper. Mmm! Slurp slurp slurp.
Mmm. Even added some lettuce for extra crunch.

Mmm. Even added some lettuce for extra crunch.

The soup is velvety, warm and oh-so-satisfying. Hard to beat, huh? If you’re in the mood for some warm, tasty soup, don’t just turn to the can! Step out of your comfort zone and try making some soup from scratch. Who knows — you might create a new childhood classic.

Are you folks fans of soup on a cold winter’s night? Or are you more sugarplums-dancing-in-your-heads sorts of folks? 🙂

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