Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.
Today: Food52's Managing Editor Brette Warshaw explains why tomato soup should be your go-to pantry meal -- and how to make it without a recipe.
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Remember last week, when you stocked your pantry and printed out recipes and planned your meals and decided to cook responsibly, virtuously, and nobly this year?
This is what you're going to do.
Tonight, or any night this week, or for lunch, or for a late night snack, you will turn to your newly-stocked pantry. You will take out a can of tomatoes. You will turn on your stove. And with three ingredients -- or more, if you so choose -- you will have a bowl of steaming happiness in front of you: a bowl to cradle on your lap as you watch Downton Abbey, or to dunk a grilled cheese in, or to pair with a fabulous main course that you had meticulously planned out (because you obviously did that, right?).
Here's how to make tomato soup your savior this year.
How to Make Tomato Soup Without a Recipe
1. Chop an allium or two; onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks are all fair game.
2. Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a big pot, and saute your alliums with a big pinch of salt until they're nice and soft. Add any spices you'd like; try black pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme, or cumin.
3. Add a big can of tomatoes and a cup of water or broth. (If the tomatoes are whole, break them up with your hands as you add them.) You can get roughly 4 servings out of a 28-ounce can, or, if you're like me, you can finish it yourself.
4. Let it all simmer down to your desired thickness; this will take around twenty to thirty minutes. Taste it -- the tomatoes should've lost their raw wateriness by now. If not, keep on simmering until it tastes good. Season with salt and pepper. If you're adding cream or milk, swirl it in now.
5. Once the soup has cooled slightly, blend! You can use an immersion blender if you want to keep it chunky, or blend half and mix it back in. Serve it with toast or grilled cheese or a salad. January just got a whole lot better.
We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you make in your sleep, without a recipe.
Photos by Mark Weinberg
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).