Monday, January 10, 2011

The weatherman was right

The weatherman was right: the predicted snowy apocalypse arrived overnight and I woke up in a winter wonderland. Our little corner of the woods is pristine when covered in snow.

I've lived in the South all my life and have never seen as much snow as in the past year - I think this is the fifth time that school has been canceled because the roads are impassable. The morning news is filled with warnings to stay off the roads and stay home. My Facebook friends are agonizing over how to entertain the kids and telling tales of power failures. I toss another log on the fire and decide to make soup.

My favorite soup book (and really one of my all-time favorite cookbooks) is Crescent Dragonwagon's Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread. If you're not familiar with Dragonwagon, who was born Ellen Zolotow, check out her blog where she explains her whimsical name. She wrote this book when she owned the Dairy Hollow House bed and breakfast in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In fact, she was called the "Alice Waters of the Ozarks" during this time. Crescent Dragonwagon is more than a great cook, she's a great writer, and I want to cook just about everything in this book.

Soup is the ticket when a snowstorm hits, and because I'm not a fan of last-minute grocery store runs, I rely on my pantry to feed my family. Instead of pulling out the carnelian can of Campbell's, I reach for a can of tomatoes and make homemade tomato soup to serve with a pan of Crescent's Skillet-Sizzled Buttermilk Cornbread.

Tomato soup by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Snow Day Tomato Soup
adapted from Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 cup whole milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and sautee onion until softened, about five minutes. Add diced tomatoes, brown sugar, bay leaf, and dried basil. Let this come to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and let bubble away for about 10 minutes.

2. Remove bay leaf and discard. Puree mixture in either a food processor or with an immersion blender. Return mixture to pot and gradually add milk Season to taste and serve.

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.

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