I know I need a respite from work when I find myself moving a 60-watt bulb back and forth between a bedside lamp and one on the dressing table -- as I've been doing for several weeks now. Also, a family of wasps has been trying to take over the house for the winter, which reminds me that the windows -- the wasps' port of entry -- need to be recaulked. There's more, but the point is, when I'm living on the edge like this, I think of the restorative powers of soup.
What luxury to put a few ingredients in a pot and let a wonderful aroma fill the house while I read a book. (You don't imagine I'd vacuum or go to the store for light bulbs, do you?)
No need to put the book down to eat either. You can turn pages and spoon soup at the same time. And with soup, all that's really needed is good bread or crackers.
This cream of vegetable soup, a rich puree fortified with wine, is a soothing prescription for burnout.
Cream of vegetable soup
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
3 pounds mixed vegetables (carrots, celery, potatoes, zucchini and so on)
2 onions (divided use)
3 quarts chicken stock
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine
1 quart Italian plum tomatoes
1 pint half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish
Clean and peel vegetables. Cut the vegetables and 1 onion into big pieces. Place in a large, lidded saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until vegetables are just tender. Drain water and add chicken broth; simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and chop remaining onion. Saute onion and garlic clove in a small amount of olive oil until light brown. Add wine and Italian plum tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes.
Pour onion-tomato mixture over soup vegetables. Continue cooking for 15 minutes, then puree in blender -- in several batches, as necessary.
Stir half-and-half into the puree and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 5 minutes, taking care not to let soup boil after cream is added.
Sprinkle soup with chopped parsley and serve hot.
Waltrina Stovall is the food editor of Dallas Life magazine.