Boston’s weather has been a bit erratic lately. Last week, it was in the 80s and muggy. This weekend, the temperature plummeted. It was 50 degrees this morning and windy. So cold, I had to cover my ears at the flea market to keep them warm. A little too cold for early September if you ask me. Regardless, the cooler weather is what prompted my most recent “Sunday Food Prep” adventure in the kitchen.
I was craving tomato soup so dug through my recipes to find one of my favorites from Peas & Crayons. Lately, I have been focusing on eating healthy and also being resourceful. I hate wasting food, and it just so happened I already had most of these ingredients in my fridge & pantry. Also, I’m lucky that my sweet landlord dropped off some fresh tomatoes the other day, and I had a can of cherry tomatoes in the pantry, so used up what I had.
Quick note: you’ll need a food processor, immersion blender, or blender for this recipe.
Before you start on the soup, I would prep the mozzarella balls. I used a ball of fresh mozzarella that I got at Russo’s in Watertown (shameless plug for Russo’s: if you haven’t been, you NEED to check this place out. It’s a family owned grocer that has the freshest and most affordable produce, along with wonderful cuts of meats, and fresh bread. I love perusing the aisles on a Saturday.) OK, back to the mozzarella balls–so, first slice and dice your mozzarella into cubes (mine were about a half inch thick). Then, put them on a plate or a tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure the cubes aren’t touching each other. (This is actually really important, otherwise they will be frozen together and you’ll have to chisel them apart.) Put the tray in the fridge for at least an hour. (I let them freeze while I was doing the rest of the soup prep, so probably an 1-2 hours.) The longer you can put them in the freezer, the better, though I’ve only done it for a max of 4 hours before.
To start on the soup you’ll need:
- 1 onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 10 baby carrots
- 1-2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 14.5 oz can of cherry tomatoes (you can use diced tomatoes too)
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (this is all I could find at the store, and instead of wasting half the can, I threw it all in there)
- 3 fresh tomatoes
- 1 cup of low/no sodium chicken broth (I had some leftover in the fridge from a meal last week, so wanted to use that up) (you could also use vegetable broth)
- 1 clove of garlic (I’m the lame person that uses the refrigerated, already prepped in a jar kind. Don’t judge.)
- 3-4 oz. of fat free cream cheese (or 1/4 c-1/2 c skim milk)
- Salt and pepper to taste
First, dice the celery, onions, and carrots. Add the olive oil to a soup pot over low-medium heat. Next add in the carrots, onion, and celery. Sautee until the onions are translucent (about 5-10 minutes). Add in the garlic. Sautee for another minute.
While that is cooking, dice up your fresh tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock, along with both the crushed/pureed tomatoes, canned cherry tomatoes, and cream cheese. Turn the pan on medium, and let it simmer for 25 minutes.
While that is going, prep your mozzarella balls for the oven:
- 1 package of fresh mozzarella
- 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
- 1 egg white, whisked
- 1/4 cup of panko seasoning
Prep: Pre-heat oven to 400 (I have a gas oven, which seems to be about 25 degrees warmer, so I had mine on 375). Line jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Place cooling rack on top of aluminum foil.
Remove mozzarella from freezer. Get three shallow bowls (one for the flour, one for the egg white, one for the panko). Roll the mozzarella balls in the flour, then egg white, then panko. Lay mozzarella on top of cooling rack. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is a light golden brown. Keep an eye on them. Mine was done at about 8 minutes (if you over cook them, they’ll just melt into one giant, delicious blob of cheese).
Once the soup is finished simmering, use your food processor (or imersion blender if you’re lucky enough to have one) and blend the soup together so it’s nice and smooth. Serve with 3-4 mozzarella balls. Enjoy!