A Spicy Cream of Tomato Soup for a Little Comfort

I love comfort foods like soup, stews and other familiar childhood favorites my Mom made. It’s something I crave when I’ve been away from home for a while, when the temperatures start to drop or during a rainy day. I especially love Panera’s cream of tomato soup, it’s so heart warming and delicious and figured why not save a little money and make my own. I had dozens of tomatoes that I grew into late October this year and had to use them up so made a spicy cream of tomato soup for a little comfort.

bowl of cream of tomato coup topped with croutons and served with side of grilled cheese

It was chilly, rainy afternoon and those tomatoes on my counter top weren’t going anywhere. I made several tomato galettes and gave dozens of tomatoes away and was determined to make a soup similar to Paneras’. Now I didn’t get their recipe; I have a few cookbooks and looked up the standard tomato soup recipe and adjusted ingredients to what I thought would taste like my old favorite. Needless to say, I learned a few lessons along the way.

cooking chopped tomatoes in pot

First, you have a remove the tomato seeds. I like a smoother soup with chunky bits of tomatoes but there were just too many seeds and chunks. I cut the tomatoes into big cubes and cooked it down until tender. If you like a chunkier soup with a bite to it, don’t worry about removing seeds. I also added a whole diced jalapeno with seeds but don’t think that affected texture to much. Next, if you want the flavor of a pepper but not all the heat, add it whole. I dropped in a whole habanero for a more spicy soup which can be easily removed with tongs. You’ll find that if you don’t cut it or puncture it you’ll get more pepper flavor without all the fire! This turned out hot but also enjoyable.

box of low sodium chicken stock

Lastly, make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and do all your prep before you start cooking! I thought I had vegetable stock but had to use chicken stock instead. I’m not a vegetarian but did want to make a vegetarian soup. The chicken stock will give it more flavor but for me, it’s really not necessary adding meat products to a tomato soup. Next time I’ll make it with vegetable stock and see if there’s a difference in flavor. I have been eliminating meat lately so I guess it’s good that I got rid of the chicken stock. If you want to make a vegetarian version then use vegetable stock instead, otherwise, stick to this recipe.

tomato soup ingredients stewing in enamel pot

By this point I was less than a half hour in and the soup was coming together nicely! The house smelled so good…

cream of tomato soup in pot with ladle

So how do you turn that chunky tomato stew into a nice, smooth soup? Use a blender or an inversion blender. I used my regular Blendec blender to puree everything a few cups at a time. My blender is pretty powerful but think any blender will do. If you have an inversion blender then this step will be much easier, just blend everything in the same pot (just be sure to review the thyme sprigs). Another tip is to use a kitchen towel over lid when blending to avoid splatter. The soup is hot so you don’t want that hot liquid all over you.

bowl of cream of tomato soup topped with croutons and side of grilled cheese
No, I didn’t make those croutons! πŸ˜‰ Just used regular salad garlic croutons

You can make your own croutons but I just topped soup with garlic seasoned croutons I use for salad. I really love how this turned out! I wouldn’t say it tasted exactly like Panera’s but it was pretty close! Next time I’ll use a cheesecloth or wash all the tomato seeds away.

bowl of cream of tomato soup topped with croutons

It was perfect with my grilled cheddar cheese sandwich. Nothing fancy, just slices of cheddar cheese between sourdough sliced bread. I have this Cuisinart sandwich press which makes yummy, hot sandwiches. I paid less than $20 for mine years ago and love it. The cheese melts so nicely and bread gets chewy and crispy. This spicy cream of tomato soup is one to have on repeat – I know I’m definitely making this again, especially during the cold months ahead. Do you make your own soups? What’s your favorite soup recipe?

Spicy Cream of Tomato Soup

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Lunch, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: comfort food, healthy, soup, tomato
Servings: 4
Author: Maria

Equipment

  • Blender or Inversion Blender

Ingredients

  • 10 Med Roma Tomatoes seeded, cubed
  • 1 Med Yellow Onion diced
  • 1 Med Jalapeno diced
  • 1 Small Habanero
  • 10 Sprigs Thyme
  • 2 Cloves Garlic crushed
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/3 cup Cream
  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock

Instructions

  • In a heavy pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and saute onions until a bit translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add tomato paste, garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, jalapeno, thyme, salt & pepper and cook until tomatoes are soft and tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock and stir. Taste mixture and adjust salt & pepper to taste if needed. Let mixture come to a boil and then let simmer for 10 min.
  • Remove sprigs of thyme from pot and discard. Carefully fill blender with mixture, about half way full. Cover and blend until tomato soup is smooth. Repeat this step until you've blended all the tomatoes. If you have an inversion blender, blend the tomatoes in pot until you've reached desired consistency.
  • If you used a blender, transfer the soup into original pot and stir in cream slowly and simmer for a few minutes. Serve soup in bowl and top with croutons.

Cool and refreshing Spicy Mango Salsa Recipe

YAY it’s finally getting warmer here in Jersey and it couldn’t come soon enough! It’s the weather for lighter foods and sorbets, for icy drinks and cooling foods. It’s the time for firing up the grill, eating outdoors and making foods that transportΒ you to the beautiful Caribbean Islands like this cool and refreshing spicy mango salsa recipe.

mango-salsa2

With only a handful of simple ingredients you can turn a bland dish into a vibrant and more appealing meal. Just chop up a few ingredients, mix and let it rest so all the flavors blend well. The salt will help draw out the moisture of the mangoes for a juicier bite each time.

mango-salsa

Use it to top grilled chicken, pork chops or enjoy it with tortilla chips. Either way, its a sweet, savory and spicy flavor you will want to make all Summer long.

mango-salsa3

 

Spicy Mango Salsa

Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Condiment
Author: Maria

Ingredients

  • 1 mango diced
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Let the mixture sit for at least an hour for best flavor.

 

Granola Pancakes with Spicy Cherry Compote

I made these amazing granola pancakes with spicy cherry compote this past weekend. These are not your fancy pants homemade pancakes but the good ol’ trusty Bisquick kind! I truly wanted to make some from scratch after seeing this healthier homemade version from the Whole Grain Mornings cookbook on Smitten Kitchen but decided on convenience. I don’t make pancakes that often so that yellow container you easily spot down the pancakes aisle was just too tempting. Besides, I made the spicy cherry compote from scratch and added healthy granola to the mix for some added nutrition.

pancakes-cherry-compote

I don’t really like sweets early in the morning but this would be great for brunch. Wouldn’t you want to wake up to this on Valentine’s Day after you’ve slept in and rolled out of bed? The spicy cherry compote will add some extra heat to your day and the a scoop or two ofΒ  KIND healthy grains clusters will keep you full for a while. You can add your own granola but these clusters contain flax seeds, quinoa, oats for a bit of crunch and wholesomeness.

cherry-compote

I think I’m making these again. Sweet, sour, hot cherries would also be great on ice cream or oatmeal. Hope you have a wonderful week!

spicy-cherry-pancakes

Granola Pancakes with Spicy Cherry Compote

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 3 -4
Author: Maria

Ingredients

  • 5.1 oz container Bisquick
  • 1/4 cup KIND healthy grain clusters
  • 1/2 lb cherries
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 small jalapeno sliced
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • maple syrup

Instructions

  • Crush the cherries and remove the pits. Add to a saucepan on medium heat then add the water, jalapeno, lemon, sugar and cinnamon and stir until well mixed.
  • Let mixture come to a boil and cook down liquid until syrup thickens. Remove from heat, then remove and discard the jalapenos.
  • Make pancakes according to instructions on container but stir in the granola before pouring.
  • Serve pancakes with syrup and top with cherry compote.

 

New York Style Jalapeno Pretzels

One thing I can’t resist when I go to the mall are those soft, buttery, pretzels from Auntie Anne’s. You know the ones, the smell hits you way before the pretzels come into view. They’re not the healthiest and covered in butter but they’re my little indulgence to get me through the next couple of hours of shopping. My favorite are the jalapeno pretzels so naturally I had to try my own version!

pretzel-dough3

These are more “New York style” pretzels rather than the chain’s version and much healthier too. No greasy, oily film covering them. I like the mall pretzels but something about making your own feels so much better eating!

pretzel-dough

These pretzels are soft and chewy and have just enough heat to keeps things interesting. They’re best when they’re fresh out of the oven and even better with spicy mustard!

soft-pretzel

You’re probably thinking β€œoh, I have no time for this”, but really, you do! With just a few simple ingredients to mix, a little time for the dough to rise and another few minutes for baking and voila, a New York style pretzel you didn’t have to travel all the way to city to get! That simple.

Jalapeno Soft Pretzel
makes 6-8 pretzels

adapted from Martha Stewart

1 tsp of dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter, salted
1 jalapeno, stem removed & chopped
2 tbsp baking soda
sea salt

1. Mix the first three ingredients and add warm water until mixture dissolves. Set aside until yeast mixture gets foamy.

2. In separate bowl mix flour and nutmeg then mix butter in with fork until mixture appears like crumble. Use fingers to mix if that’s easier.

3. Slowly add yeast mixture into flour and stir. Add chopped jalapeno peppers and mix with hands until you form a dough. Knead the dough until smooth and not sticky. Cover with plastic and let the dough rise for an hour, or overnight in the refrigerator.

4. Cut dough into 6- 8 pieces and roll out each into a long log. Shape each into your desired shape and place on a oiled baking sheet. Let the dough rise again for another 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 45o. Add baking soda to a pot of water over high heat and let boil. Boil each pretzel, a couple at a time and set a rack to drain.

6. Sprinkle pretzels with sea salt and place back on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown.

Easy Brunch Recipe: Roasted Chiles and Vegetable Frittata

Oh my, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted here. So sorry to have abandoned you so just wanted to let you all know that I’m still here! πŸ™‚ I’ve just been so overwhelmed with work, home repairs, travel and wait for it……redesigning this blog!! Woo Hoo! Within a few weeks I’ll be able to share with you a brand spanking new Hot Lollies blog that’s bright and lively with great new spicy content to go along with it. I’ll still keep posting here until I make the switch over to the new design so please don’t go anywhere! You see, I even made a roasted chiles and vegetable frittata for you! How can you resist a spicy, hearty frittata?

baked-frittata

I saw this episode of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa a while ago and immediately went online to bookmark this frittata recipe. I love Ina’s recipes. She makes the most luscious comfort foods look so easy to make. I don’t always get a chance to watch her show but this episode featured all the things to make with cheese so clearly I had to drop everything!

Ina made a bacon and Gruyere grilled cheese, a rib-eye steak with Stilton cheese sauce, a coconut cupcake with cream cheese frosting but what really hooked me was a roasted vegetable frittata. Tender pieces of lightly season roasted vegetables tossed with an egg and cheese mixture and baked to perfection! It’s a great way to start your Sunday morning with a bright and peppery egg dish. The chile peppers add nice heat that isn’t overwhelming and really lets the vegetable and cheese flavors come through.

I spiced up the recipe and also substituted a few things to make it just a little healthier. I switched the half & half for 2% milk and cut back on the oil by just drizzling a small amount to roast the vegetables. The original recipe also served twelve so I quartered the recipe and made them in ramekins instead of a cast iron skillet, you know, for portion control. πŸ˜‰

egg-mix

frittata

Roasted Chiles Vegetables and Frittata
serves 2

recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1/2 small zucchini, 1 inch dice
1/4 red pepper, 1 inch dice
1/4 green pepper, 1 inch dice
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 small cubanelle pepper
1/2 jalapeno, diced
habanero-infused olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1-2 tbsp fresh Parmesean cheese, grated
1 scallion, chopped
2-3 slices of habanero pepper, diced
2 tbsp Gruyere cheese
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, spread zucchini, peppers (except habanero) and onion on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and toss around until nicely coated. Heat for 10 minutes then add the garlic and toss again. Heat for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven.

2. Turn down oven temperature to 350 degrees. In a bowl, beat the eggs, add the milk and beat again. Stir in the Parmesean cheese, season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3. Melt butter in a saute pan, add the scallions, habanero pepper and cook until soft. Add the roasted vegetables and mix well.

4. Spoon the roasted vegetables into two ramekins until each is 3/4 full and top off with the egg mixture. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then top each with the Gruyere cheese and baked for a couple of minutes until cheese is melted.

St Patrick’s Day Jalapeno and Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

Happy pre – St. Patrick’s Day!! Celebrate with these jalapeno and cheddar cornbread muffins for a spiced up morning. They’re playful, fun, easy to make and would look cute on your breakfast table. During the baking process the jalapeno slices transform into little shamrocks!

jalapeno_muffins_02

Just slice an extra jalapeno and top each muffin before baking.

muffin_pan

The cornbread muffins will be just a little spicy since the fat in the cheese helps balance the heat.

jalapeno_muffins_03

Perfect with a mug of coffee!

jalapeno_muffin_coffee

I used regular cornbread mix which works for me! Its quick, it’s easy but if you have your own special corn muffin recipe go ahead and just mix in the jalapenos and the cheddar. Adjust your recipe if you add salt since the cheddar adds it’s own saltiness. Also, adding the cheese makes this recipe much more moist than a traditional cornbread recipe.

Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day and may the road always rise up to meet you!!

St Patrick’s Day Jalapeno & Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
2 jalapenos, 1 diced & the other sliced
1/4 cup white cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl mix all ingredients except the sliced jalapeno.

2. Grease a muffin pan and pour cornbread mix into molds. Top each muffin with a jalapeno slice and bake for 20-25 minutes.

3. For a sweeter option, drizzle a little honey over the tops as they’re cooling.