As Hurricane Joaquin hits the East Coast, temperatures drop here in Western New York, making it the perfect, blustery October day. I spent most of the morning in Target (shocker) looking at the many maternity sweaters at my disposal. Oh, the damage I could do in that maternity section. I did happen to purchase my first pair of maternity leggings; I also purchased all the fixings to make my own homemade laundry soap! Now that my body is busy making a tiny human, my mind thinks it’s time to be the Pinterest savvy mom. I must have spent close to two hours in Target, just wandering; I spent a hefty amount of those two hours in the baby section, picking up tiny shoes and then putting them down because let’s be honest…infants don’t really “wear” shoes. They take them off and chew on them. Or take them off, throw them on the floor when you aren’t looking, and then get all fussy when you don’t pick it up off the ground fast enough. I don’t need that type of stress in my life.
By the time I left Target, I was starving…naturally. Pregnancy perk: eating. I loved eating before I was pregnant but now, I love eating even more. I was one of the lucky ones not to experience day-stopping nausea. However, food aversions and cravings are a real problem. I can’t stand the smell of pepperoni but I now love the taste of Ranch dressing. Ranch. Of all the things. If anyone knows me they know that Ranch and I…we don’t mesh…at all. But somehow, it has invaded my refrigerator and we are great fiends now.
Same thing with tomato soup. I…tolerate…tomato soup. There are many other soups I would prefer to eat: butternut squash, french onion, broccoli and cheddar…the list goes on. (I do love soup.) But tomato soup, it’s never been a go-to for me. As a kid, I ate the grilled cheese and tomato soup combo and I am pretty sure I liked it. But as an adult, I tolerate it. I’m not a boring person. It just seems so boring.
Unless, I doctor it. I have many spirit animals. Ina Garten, Kristen Wiig, Venus Williams…and of course, Ree Drummond. The Pioneer Woman and I get along swimmingly. She just gets me. And when I was watching her “Simply the Best” episode, she made a tomato soup that looked too good to be on television. It deserved to be in my belly. So when I left Target today, I had naughty intentions of eating Taco Bell (per suggestion of Racheal, my spirit animal best friend) but instead, I voted on something homemade. Plus, with the cold weather, soup sounded so good. And I had just rewatched the episode last night. So tomato soup it was.
I improvised a bit. I didn’t have all the items in her recipe. And I wasn’t about to spend a Saturday in Wegmans. If any of you live by a Wegmans, you know that Saturday is a horrible time to go. Sure, they have samples galore but it’s so crowded. With people who are just unaware of their general surroundings. With what I had on hand, I think I nailed the soup. And my bread. My bread is amazing.
Now, the homemade laundry soap? Well…we will have to see about that.
Creamy Tomato-Sherry Soup with Smoked Gouda Pull-Apart Bread
Serves 1 very hungry pregnant woman, 2 normal people
-My recipe is a little different than the original. I also chose to put my soup into a hollowed out bread bowl. You don’t have too if you don’t want too. The sherry is also optional; however, I think it adds that little bit of something tomato soup is normally missing. So I fully recommend adding it.
For the soup:
-3 oz of thick cut bacon (about two slices), cut into lardons (small strips)
-1 14.5 oz can cream of tomato soup
-1 TBSP granulated sugar
-4 oz heavy cream
-3 TBPS sherry (or sherry cooking wine)
-1 TBSP fresh thyme
-1 TSPB fresh basil
-1 tsp fresh garlic, chopped
-a dollop of sour cream, optional
-salt and pepper, to taste
For the bread:
-12 oz (small loaf) of crusty bread (small sourdough boule, french bread, crusty Italian bread)
-2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
-1 tsp fresh garlic, chopped
-1 tsp salt
-4 to 6 thin slices of hard-smoked Gouda cheese (the Trader Joe’s brand is the bomb)
-small, 4×6 baking dish (or whatever baking dish you have)
-wooden spoon (or other stirring spoon you have)
Heat your oven to 350 and cut your bread into two inch cubes. If you’re using a boule and wish to make a bowl for soup, hollow out the boule and tear the top into two inch pieces. Place pieces into your baking dish. Melt butter in small bowl using microwave-30 seconds usually does the trick. Mix your designated “bread garlic” and salt into your butter. Pour butter over bread pieces and cover the top of the bread with your smoked Gouda cheese slices. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly bubbly.
On medium heat, render the fat out of your bacon lardons. (Lardon is just a term for how the bacon is cut, nothing fancy.) It takes about 10 minutes but once they are slightly crispy, remove them from the bacon fat. Turn your burner on low and add your “soup designated” garlic. Cook until fragrant, usually 2 minutes. Add the can of tomato soup. It will bubble and spatter, which is why I turn it on low. Turn the heat back on to medium and add your sugar. Cook until soup almost reaches a boil. Turn heat off and add heavy cream, sherry, basil and thyme. Now, taste the soup. Salt and pepper to taste. I always end up adding a lot of black pepper to any soup I eat so I’m going to tell you to “do you” and add what you want.
Serve up your soup in big bowls (or your bread bowl) and top with bacon and, if desired, sour cream. I just put the Gouda bread next to the soup and pull pieces of the bread when I need something to soak up some soup. It’s cheesy, creamy, sherrified goodness that just makes any blustery day that much better.