Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family and a Quick Tomato Basil Bisque

I am home in Texas and loving being with family. Everyone is gathered in a lake house in the Texas Hill Country for a long Christmas weekend. It is fantastic to eat, laugh and be together.

And again I picked someone else's brain for this week's post. My sister Christie is a junior in college and in the few years she has been away from home really learning how to eat, and not just cook on her own. She doesn't worry about feeding a whole family or another person, just herself. Not to be deceived, cooking for one is not mindless- it means it is easier to neglect yourself and forget to take the time to eat what matters. And when time is tight, that is even harder.

Christie is extremely busy, but I especially admire her commitment to doing better every year. Here are some of her best tips and followed by her favorite simple meal.

  • Stock your cupboard and fridge with staples that you can easily assemble meals without needing to run out for other ingredients.
  • Make a salad that you can eat for days: make dressing, prep the ingredients and leave it in separate containers to assemble in single serving sizes as needed.
  • Make your own salad dressings. (Christie says that this is especially great because it is really a one time expense to buy some good oil, vinegar, dijon mustard and some herbs [frozen are great] and then you can make all sorts of dressings to your liking that taste fresh and don't crowd the fridge.)
  • Find and shop your farmer's market when possible. It is more fun than the grocery store and even if produce is packaged in larger quantities most every stand will sell you the smaller amount you want if you just ask.
  • Learn to eat fruit and vegetables as a quick and simple snack. (Christie says a peach for breakfast is just as portable as a pop tart and infinitely more self respecting. She has found that a small tupperware container allows her to take fruit in her backpack without fear of bruising or fruited mush.)
  • Another low prep meal Christie loves is popping a sweet potato in the oven for an hour or so until done and already perfectly portioned.
And now for the recipe: a super simple tomato soup based on pantry staples and a minimal amount of your attention with flavor to wallop anything from a can.

28- Ounce can of tomatoes (go for quality here, like Muir Glen Organic)

A handful of fresh basil or a ½ teaspoon of dried basil or frozen fresh

1/4 to ½ teaspoon chicken or vegetable soup base (or to taste)

1/3 cup cream or half and half

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 clove of garlic (whole, peeled)

1 cup +/- water

In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients except cream. Cover the saucepan and simmer until well-infused. About 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cream and adjust seasonings. Blend.

Or if you have a starter kitchen devoid of any blending device mince your garlic and basil and use crushed tomatoes so you have no need of a blender or food processor.


  1. I love your blog. I read it weekly and i'm grateful for your insights on the word of wisdom! I'm from Texas too! I love your recipes you post - you keep me motivated to eat clean!

  2. thanks. I love your phrase "eat clean".

  3. Bought the ingredients today! I made whole wheat rolls to go with it (i probably should make some fancy french crusty bread, but I only try one new recipe at a time). I will be making it tomorrow for playgroup!

  4. I made a version of this last night for dinner. Oh. my.gosh. I combined two recipes so it was a little different, but basically the same. LOVED it! Everyone did!

  5. So glad you liked it. I hope this wasn't the one you scorched yourself over.


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