Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Empty Wallet Soup

     It happens to the best of us......

 Everyone knows that sometimes, after you get the rent, utilities, medical bills and unforeseen expenses paid for, you're just gonna have to be broke for a few days until your next paycheck. We've all been there, commiserate with me, won't you?

 So, tonight's challenge was feeding myself with what I had in the house (our pantry is always well-stocked, thankfully, so this certainly wasn't the challenge it could have been), and rather than let it stress me out, I was actually looking forward to it :) It gave me the opportunity to interpret a delicious and hella easy soup recipe that my friend Merlyn gave me about a month ago :)

 In it's true incarnation, this soup is called *Blushing Bunny Soup* (how adorable is that?), and Merlyn made it for us at our April StoryBook Club Meeting a few weeks back :) Our theme? The Velveteen Rabbit :) Merlyn, my love, as I said that night, I tip my hat to you, because this has to be one of the easiest, tastiest and most comforting soups I've had the pleasure of eating :) I could face a month of rainy days if I knew that this soup would be on the menu every night. Creamy, just a little spicy, and very reminiscent of the old childhood standby (grilled cheese and tomato soup, NOM), this soup is basically all you could ask for in the comfort food realm :)

 So, why didn't I just make Merlyn's original recipe and call it Blushing Bunny Soup? Because I only had some of the ingredients she called for in her original recipe, and had to improvise the rest. However, this was hardly an upsetting task, as Improvising in the Kitchen is basically the name of my game :)

 Before we get to my improvised version of this soup, I am going to include Merlyn's original recipe here, because you really should make it just the way it is, at least for your first try, because it is DELICIOUS :)

Blushing Bunny Soup
(recipe courtesy of Merlyn Fuller)
-1 large can Campbell's Tomato Soup
-1/2 can milk or cream (as in, pour the milk/cream into the now empty soup can until it is half full)
-1 or 2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
-1 or 2tbsp. Yellow Mustard
-1-2 bags Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- A few slices of toasted Italian Bread

-Whisk all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat until smooth.
-Serve over broken bits of Italian Bread Toast
-snuggle up with a blanket/good book/classic movie/snuggle buddy and enjoy life :)

 Now, onto my improvised version of this soup. Again, this version came about because I made it with ingredients that I had in my house, as a grocery store trip wasn't happening today. All of these items are fairly standard fridge/pantry fare, and, although I didn't time it specifically, I'm pretty dang sure that you could throw this together in under 15 minutes, maybe even under 10 minutes. That's a warm, comforting, CHEAP (actually, basically free because it was made of items I already had) homemade meal on the table in practically no time at all :) WIN :)

Empty Wallet Soup
(inspired by the Blushing Bunny Soup listed above)
-1 28oz can tomato puree
-1-2 cups milk (I used skim milk) ( you could also fill the puree can half full of milk, like the recipe above, really, it depends on what your desired consistency is, if you like thicker soups, back off on the milk, if you like thinner soups, use the full amount of milk)
-1-2 tbsp. Spicy Brown Mustard
-1 large wedge Smoked Gouda Cheese
-2 slices deli-cut Provolone Cheese
-1 slice deli-cut sharp cheddar cheese
-One large Whole Wheat Pita, toasted (obviously, my first choice would have been Italian Bread Toast, but all I had in the house was the Pita, so that's what I used)
-Salt and Pepper to taste

-Combine the Tomato Puree, Mustard and Milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine.
                              (I used about half of this Pac Man-shaped wedge)

-Grate the Smoked Gouda cheese into the soup and stir/whisk to combine.
-Add any other cheeses to the soup and stir/whisk to combine until smooth.

*FULL DISCLOSURE* The smoked gouda will not melt seamlessly into the soup, some of the texture will remain and it will be visible in the soup. The provolone and cheddar, however, will melt beautifully, and will basically disappear into the soup, making it extra creamy :)

-Taste to adjust seasonings, salt, pepper, etc to taste ( I added a few shakes of black pepper and a picnch of sea salt, and one more squeeze of mustard).

-Serve over toasted pita or bread of choice.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the variations on this soup are virtually endless :) Want to go Italian? Switch out the Cheddar and the Gouda for Mozzarella and Parmesan and add a little basil. How about Tex-Mex? Use Pepper Jack or Manchego, sub sour cream for the milk and stir in some salsa or jalapenos, serve over tortilla chips. French? Gruyere, Dijon Mustard and a few glugs of wine, serve over baguette, and on and on and on ;) Soup can be whatever you want it to be, once you have the base recipe the sky's the limit :)

Lynn :)