I have grappled with writing this post longer than I care to admit. In case you were wondering - no, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. I've just started teaching fourth and fifth grade and the beginning of the school year has been one big overwhelming and exhilarating blur. There have been some nights when I have found moments of rest and normalcy in chopping vegetables, whisking batter, or kneading pasta, but most evenings just slip through my fingers and we end up eating whatever is leftover in the fridge. There have been many Taco Tuesdays and Pizza Fridays... and Mondays, and Thursdays, too.
But this weekend, I finally found myself with a nearly unscheduled Saturday. I spent the morning outside watching some of my students playing one of their final soccer games, and when I got home I was chilly and craving something warm and cheesy. Better yet, Ethan got home from work early, which meant we could actually have lunch together. So, instead of reaching for the leftover chicken fingers and butternut squash from Thursday, I decided to whip up a batch of one of my all-time favorite soups - Creamy Tomato Parmesan Bisque. It's like a grown-up version of the Campbell's classic.
It's all about the chunks in this soup. Hearty chunks of carrot, onion, and fresh tomato mingle with cream and a gorgeous roux to make this bisque so dippable, so delightful, so divine that you will want to make a double batch just so you can store the rest in the freezer to have it readily accessible.
Nearly all of the ingredients in this bisque can be found in your pantry, but I say why used dried herbs and shaky cheese in the green plastic container when you can have rosemary picked right off the stem and freshly grated parmesan?
My favorite part about this bisque (besides dunking cheesy carbohydrates into it) is preparing the roux. Before I made this soup for the first time, I didn't even know what the heck a roux was. In case you're in the same boat, a roux is flour and butter (or any other fat of your choosing - pick your poison) whisked together to create a thickener. Adding it to the soup turns it from a bunch of brothy vegetables into a creamy bisque that really sticks to your insides.
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In my natural element - sporting flour-covered yoga pants and whisking butter.
Would you just look at that buttery goodness? Once you get that thick sauce, you can gradually stir in a bit of soup, ladle by ladle. After you've incorporated about half the soup, you pour the whole thing back into the original stockpot. Give it a little simmer time and then you will have a pot of comforting bliss steaming on the stove shortly thereafter.
A grilled cheese would be the obvious partner to this soup, but being the harried girl I am these days, I had not been shopping since the weekend before and the refrigerator was pretty impressively empty. But, thanks to good ole' Taco Tuesdays, I did have a half-full bag of tortillas and some shredded cheddar on hand. I fried up a couple of Easy Cheesy Quesadillas instead, and I have to say - they were the perfect compliment!
Even as I finish writing this, I feel better. The fact that I neglected The Coming Appetite for over a month was weighing on my soul. I missed it. And Ethan missed the meals. Isn't it amazing that when you have demands on your time, it's usually the things that you love that you abandon first? And by things you love I mean sleep, clean hair, and a decent meal. Keeping up with your blog when at the same time you have a pile of fourth grade books to read and 50 students to engage, inspire, and encourage seems like an absolute luxury at that point! But, I do love it. The teaching, and the blog. Which means they are both worth doing.
Plus, the blog gives me a reason to make yummy meals and the job gives me the excuse to add as much butter as I want.
Love well and eat well,
Recipe for Creamy Tomato Parmesan Bisque
(Adapted from 365 Days of Crockpot
- 3 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or canned (keep all the juice!)
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced onions
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 Tbsp basil
- 1 Tbsp rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 2 cups cream or milk
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Sauté the carrots, onions, and garlic over medium heat until they are slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, rosemary, basil, oregano, bay leaf, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer until carrots are soft, about 15 minutes.
- While the soup simmers, make the roux. Melt butter over low heat and gradually whisk in the flour, little by little, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Remove 1 cup hot soup from the soup pot and add to the roux, whisking it in slowly. Do this two or three more times and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add it all back into the soup pot.
- Allow soup to continue simmering, stirring it constantly until the bisque begins to thicken. Then, add parmesan cheese and stir until completely melted. Add cream, salt, and pepper, then simmer over low heat for 20 - 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.