Oh, hey there. How’s everything been going? How are the kids? How’s the cat? Good? Good. Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately with recipes, I got married a couple of weeks ago and we also moved into a new house. All in the same 3-week span. I don’t recommend that level of stress onto another human being, but now that the dust has settled it feels SO GOOD to be back. And with a new kitchen at that. Well, a new kitchen to me anyway. We are officially out of our tiny, minuscule one-bedroom apartment and fully moved in to our new house! I have storage now people! And a room that will be my photography studio in the near future, as well as an entire room in the basement for food prop storage! Which thank heavens for that, seeing as my new husband would’ve probably divorced me already if he had to look at one more random cake stand or bowl sitting around that I had no room to put away.
That being said, I’m back in the swing of things now that my kitchen has been restored to fully-functional use. And just in time for fall, my absolute favorite time of year. I don’t know if it’s because of the crisp air, the colorful leaves changing, or the return of comfort foods that I love most. Oh, and the apples, don’t forget apple season. I go several times every year and despite all the bees I muster up the courage to pick until I can’t pick (or carry) any more.
Today, though, I choose to start the fall food collection here at AST with what is arguably the most comforting of ALL fall recipes: Tomato Soup. Only I up the ante here with a couple ingredients that you don’t traditionally find in most tomato soup recipes. The first of which is Saffron, which I realize is very expensive but you only use a small pinch and it makes all the difference in the world with this dish. It adds a depth of flavor in an unmistakable way that only saffron can do. The other ingredient I use is orzo pasta. It makes the soup more hearty as a stand-alone meal but the starch granules in the pasta when par-cooking it release in the soup as it finishes cooling, lending more thickness and body. And the third secret-ingredient in this dish is Sherry wine. Not Sherry cooking vinegar, but actual full-bodied sherry from the wine section of your grocery store. You could of course use sherry cooking wine if it’s all you have or can find, I’d just use a little more than the 1/3 cup I call for in the recipe. But it’s all to your taste, so start out with a smaller amount than what you think you need and taste as you go. Remember you can always add more, but you can’t take it out if you add too much.
These few added ingredients don’t require much more time, but they will have your guests wondering what that certain underlying flavor is that they can’t quite put their finger on. And then you can give them this recipe if you’re feeling generous.
Or you can be all coy and mischievous, wink and tell them it’s your little secret.
I won’t tell a single soul.
Sherried Tomato and Orzo Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 C. Chicken stock
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 pinch saffron (optional, but recommended)
1 C. Orzo
1 ½ C heavy cream
1/3 C. Sherry wine
In a large Dutch oven, heat up the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until butter is melted and appears frothy. Add in the onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add in the can of crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, sugar, salt, pepper and saffron and stir to combine. Bring to a low boil.
While the soup base comes to a boil, heat up 3 cups of water in a separate pot and bring to a boil. Add in the orzo, cooking for 5 minutes, then drain and add to the soup.
Add in the heavy cream and the sherry wine and bring soup ALMOST to a boil, then turn off the heat.
Ladle into bowls and serve immediately!
*To Store: When soup cools to room temperature, place into plastic storage containers and place in fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to one month!