Today is a rainy New York day. The sky is grey and yet I am gloriously happy. However, that is NOT the way my morning started out at all. I still have the sniffles from this cold I’ve been fighting off all week. I tossed and turned all night worried about a myriad of things. In old Bianca land that would have had “disastrous day” written all over it. But, a new leaf was turned this year and I am finding ways to shake it off.
One of my favorite things to do when I am feeling under the weather is have a HUGE bowl of soup. Since I gave up canned soup a while ago over BPA concerns, that meant I’d have to make some. I opened the fridge to find it bursting with Tomatoes and other veggies I had purchased last week when I vowed to make a Marinara sauce. When I got sick this week . . .well they just sat there. Since it all needed to used before it went bad I thought “today is the day”. And no it wasn’t an all day adventure at all. It simply took One Hour! Yep, one hour.
At 11:30 I rolled out of bed and cleaned the fridge of all the left over produce I had purchased last week. There were roma tomatoes, basil, onions, garlic, carrots, green onion, broccoli, spinach, and some sun dried tomatoes. By 12:30 I had finished making an 8 quart stock pot filled with juicy tomato red sauce, cleaned the kitchen, and sat down to eat a large bowl of tomato soup with parmesan cheese. The soup was thinned with a little left over stock, a splash of cream, and topped with a heaping of cheese. As it melted in my mouth I contemplated my love of a good Red Sauce.
What I adore about a basic Red sauce is that it can be turned into oh so very many things. Add some Romano cheese, a little cream and Vodka and voila Vodka sauce. Add meat balls, bell peppers, and a few extra seasonings and presto you have spaghetti. Add more italian seasonings and cook it down and Eureka you have pizza sauce. A good Red base sauce is indispensable in the kitchen. And more importantly it is SUPER EASY and QUICK to make.
Today I started by washing all the veggies (taking time to arrange them for some lovely photos for ya!).
Then I sliced the tomatoes in half with a dash of salt. Placed them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and threw into a 450 degree oven.
While those were cooking down, I took out an 8 quart stock pot which I filled with 1 cup of water. As the water came to a boil I threw 1 cup of sun dried tomatoes into the water.
With my handy dandy food processor with the “shred” blade, I shredded 4 large carrots: 2 mins. Then I used the “chopper” blade in batches to pulverize the broccoli, onions, and garlic: 8 mins. Then the door bell rang. I took a break for 5 mins to let the gas man in to read the meter. Then back to cooking.
All my veggies were pretty much diced up. I washed and took the leaves off my basil and sliced up the green onions. The tomatoes had another 10 mins in the oven, so I cleaned the dishes I had used and the food processor in the mean time.
When those juicy tomatoes began smelling up the kitchen I knew they were done (about 35 mins in the oven total). I plopped the soft juicy roasted tomatoes directly into the waiting stock pot. Now some people would spend time peeling the skin off the tomatoes…why I dunno…but I figure it gives me that much more fiber and well it never bothered me. So into the pot skin and all!
Then I added half of the chopped veggies: Onions, garlic, carrots, and broccoli; to the pot. I added lots of dried seasonings: Italian seasoning, red chili pepper flakes, garlic powder, Onion powder. I let that all cook together for another 10 mins before giving it a taste.
Everything was soft and tasting great. I added the last of the veggies and cooked for another 5-10 mins. At the very end I threw in the fresh basil and spinach, before taking out my lovely immersion blender. I love these things! Instead of throwing batches of soup into a blender, you bring the blender TO THE SOUP. I just place the little stick in the pot and in a few minutes I have smooth soup. And voila! All done.
I made my bowl of soup to enjoy while the sauce cooled down. I even made a small muffin tin of sauce to throw in the freezer (just to show you what it would look like). FYI wait until the sauce cools before trying to freeze. You don’t want to burn your hands or defrost your freezer with something too hot in there.
In one hour I made enough Red Sauce to pretty much get me through next spring. I will place the cooled sauce into ice cube trays (for when I need small amounts of sauce), muffin trays (when I need more), and big tupperware for when I want soups. I will use these to make everything from pizza, stuffed mushrooms, pasta, cook chicken in, throw over quinoa…the list goes on and one. One hour. That’s not that long to make lots and lots of meals faster, easier, and healthier for months and months to come! And more importantly it was CHEAP. Considering the cost of produce in NY is twice as much as I paid anywhere else I have EVER lived and it still cost less then $40 to make 8 quarts of sauce…not bad, not bad at all. And FYI it took me longer to write this blog than to make this sauce.
NO CANS ALLOWED RED SAUCE
8 lbs of Roma Tomatoes (purchased in 2lb containers at Costco for $2.50 each = $10)
3 large Onions (purchased a 6 lb bag for $4, so pennies for the 3)
1 1/2 cups of garlic ( 2 packs already peeled $4 used 1/2 )
2 bunches green onions (2 for $1)
1 large bunch fresh Basil ($ 4)
3 heads of broccoli ($ 4)
4 large carrots ($ 2.50)
1 Cup sun dried tomato no oil ($ 3.50)
2-3 Cups Spinach ($ 4)
4-6 tablespoons of granulated garlic powder (pantry)
4-6 tablespoons of Italian Seasoning (pantry
2 tablespoons chili pepper flakes (pantry)
2 tablespoons granulated onion powder (pantry)
1-2 tablespoons Sea Salt (pantry)
** you can add whatever veggies you want to this sauce. I used what I had. Options: mushrooms, artichoke hearts, other fresh herbs like parsley and thyme.
*****Don’t be tempted to throw in a lot of salt …it isn’t needed for the base! And if you cook anything like I cook, I always end up adding more salt to the final dish anyway. This way you can’t be tempted to over salt.
RUSTIC TOMATO SOUP
1/2 cup of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of red tomato sauce
1 tablespoon of low fat half/half
Sprinkled Parmesan and Romano Cheese