Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cream of Tomato Soup with Popcorn

AKA Camelot Soup.

Apparently the alternate title needed some explanation. Here's the logic train:

Whereas we were going to see Camelot at the Cincinnati Ballet tonight, and whereas the JFK White House was known as "Camelot," we should eat whatever soup they ate at the January 20, 1961 JFK inaugural luncheon.

I guess my friends don't automatically think of the Kennedys when they think Camelot. It's like they didn't grow up obsessed with JFK for the morbidly narcissistic reason that he died on their birthdays or something. Pffft, some people!

Childhood fascination aside, the last few years have done a lot to solidify this link in my mind. First there was this gorgeous show at the Newseum, Creating Camelot, a photography exhibit featuring the works of the Kennedy family's personal photographer, Jacques Lowe. It was so intimate and full of light, I was wholly sucked into the glamour that took over the country at that time. The Kennedys were totally Instagram before Instagram. Impressive. (Also, J-Lowe, hit me up I need that filter.)

Then of course there was the James Franco-helmed Hulu series 11.22.63, based on the superfun Stephen King read of the same name - and I may have previously established my feelings about Franconian delights.

Forgot how cute I looked in that red suit.

And there's still-haunting-me performance by Natalie Portman in Jackie, which featured the Camelot original cast recording prominently when not playing that best-ever original score.

So, to my dear friends, there's the defense of my logic. THERE'S SO MUCH JFK I SWEAR MY BRAIN IS NORMAL! Still, sorry about the lack of Medieval Times style giant meat on bones. At least the soup tasted good. (Or at least they smiled about it.)

After the ballet, Nick (bottom right) asked me: "What was the soup, again?"
Me: "Cream of tomato."
Nick: "What was special about it?"
Me: "Nothing, really."

The normalest ingredients.

And I'd say that was accurate. Not really a head-turner, not causing any traffic accidents -- just a solid, standard, nothing-wrong-with-it cream of tomato soup. It was better than a can of Campbell's, and I am starting to trust my slow-cooker instincts finally.

8am: Soup begins.

Here's the special part though: Tyler made French bread from scratch for the first time and it was fabulous. Perfect accompaniment for the soup. The popcorn really made for fun croutons (new revelation for any pureed soup, I would say), but you can't really beat fresh, homemade bread.

Nothing wrong with any of that at all. Not pictured: Molly's snickerdoodle brownie's for dessert. BRB drooling again.

Anyway, yeah! Are you hungry for tomato soup with basil and a good dose of cheese, but that isn't so creamy you forget there were tomatoes? This works! Dip some stuff in it, then (optionally) go watch a nice young man in eyeliner dance the part of Lancelot and definitely don't text weird things to your friends for like 24 hours following about how hard he was working that necklace -- I mean, LanceHOT amirite?

The best thing, though, was just having friends filling my apartment with talk and laughter. I haven't had many people over since I moved in last year. Never really celebrated or felt like celebrating. But maybe that's starting to change. Thanks, friends; and thanks, soup. Soupelot.

Oh wait, I forgot the other best thing. Cowbobby:

Cream of Tomato Soup with Popcorn

Serves 8-10

For soup:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup carrot, diced
1/4 cup fennel, diced
1/4 cup leek (white and light green parts), diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
Piece of Parmigiano Reggiano rind

To finish:
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
1 cup heavy cream
Salted popcorn
Small sprigs of basil

Melt butter in a pan over medium and add red onion, carrot, fennel, leek and garlic, and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft.

Add to slow cooker along with basil, thyme, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf and Parm rind. Cook on low for 8 hours (or high for a few hours I guess? I'm still not great at slow cookers).

Remove bay leave and Parm rind from soup, add cheeses and cream, and puree with an immersion blender. Check for seasoning (you should be fine after all that cheese) and serve, topped with basil and popcorn.

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