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Today: Keep it simple -- and close to home -- with a comforting soup and salad duo.
Some nights you just want to burrow under the covers, watch movies, and have steamy, hot soup brought to you. Nights like these require low-commitment menus.
Enter Barbara Lynch's Spicy Tomato Soup. This soup is ideal for many reasons: It cooks up as quickly as you need it to, it's made with ingredients you probably already have on hand, and it imparts the comfort and warmth you desire when all you want to do is stay indoors -- who doesn't crave soup like that in the winter? We’ve paired the soup with a hearty salad composed of crunchy celery, toasted walnuts, and a hint of sweetness. Here’s to simplicity, warmth, and a comforting night in.
Here's how to make it:
For the salad dressing, place half of the raisins, the lemon juice, the anchovy paste, the peppers, 2 tablespoons water, 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, and 6 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl. Set the bowl aside so the raisins plump while you start the soup.
For the soup, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Cook the onions and red pepper flakes until the onions are tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the canned tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups water, and bring up to a boil. Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes (if you’re in a rush, skip the simmer time and use a little less water).
While the soup simmers, continue with the salad: Fill the salad spinner bowl with ice water. Cut away 3/4-inch of the root ends from the head of celery. Separate and clean the stalks, then cut them on the bias into thin slivers; this should yield about 5 cups. Place the celery in the spinner basket, put the basket in the ice water, and let the celery crisp for 10 to 15 minutes.
When the soup is done simmering, add the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Take the soup off the heat and allow it to cool slightly. In small batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth. Pour the soup through a strainer, pressing and discarding the solids. Taste and season the soup as needed, then return it to a saucepan and warm on medium heat until you’re ready to serve.
To finish the salad dressing, rinse the blender and add the dressing contents, blending until no large raisin chunks remain. Chop the remaining 1/4 cup raisins, then drain the celery and spin it dry. Combine the celery with the raisins and walnuts in a large bowl. Drizzle it with half of the dressing and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Toss to combine, add more dressing as needed, and garnish with more salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche, if desired.
Take advantage of our handy grocery list and click the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes.
Slivered Celery and Walnut Salad by hardlikearmour
The Grocery List
Serves about 4
1/2 cup golden raisins, divided
2/3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
1 small yellow onion
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
1 head organic celery (about 12 to 15 stalks)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Crème fraîche, for garnish (optional)
You’re probably all set with olive oil, salt, and pepper. If you’re running low, add those to the list, too.
Photos by James Ransom