The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

Steamy Tomato and Pesto Soup

Opposite of a “shout-out” goes to our neighbor for thinking that a Wii game, which involved pounding something repeatedly, was a good idea at 1:45 this morning. It was as though someone were in our bedroom, knocking on the wall. If we wanted that noise, we would keep the radiator on (we sleep without the heat on because the noisiest radiator is in our bedroom and the steam sets the smoke alarm off in the living room so we rely on the heat in the living and dining rooms). Greg was not pleased either. Our boudoir is the loudest room, in terms of hearing neighbors and passersby on the sidewalk, even though the shared wall is in the living room and the bedroom is one room over-it’s a corner thing.

I marched into the living room and knocked on the wall, which fell on deaf Wii-playing ears, so I started pounding down the length of the wall, it stopped. I think I fell asleep more than an hour later…and got up not feeling my best. I’m glad it ceased when it did-the next step was to go over in my tattered pajamas, with my skewed hair and cranky disposition. You know how well those situations go for future interactions. Awkward hellos, awkward walk-bys (when they are out smoking in the alley), annoying paybacks by making more apartment noise…things of that nature.

A few weeks ago, a man and woman (pretty sure it was our neighbor or two people that came from our neighbor’s apartment) decided to get wasted and scream in the alcove of the door outside….right below our bedroom windows. They were on a phone, yelling at some guy named Tom, asking him to come over so he could kill and teach him how to be a man (at the same time?), while the female slurred all of her words and told the male what Tom’s vehicle looked like.

This went on for a while (at 2:30AM), not just yelling but running up and down the sidewalk screaming in a rather scary manner. I went to call the cops but the number provided in the new phonebook wasn’t in service (go figure) so by the time I found another number, they were gone. Quite scared and very awake, I was lying in bed wondering if he had a weapon and actually thought about bullets flying through our bedroom windows. This isn’t that kind of town, as far as I know, but I could be wrong. I didn’t think that our old neighbors would sell drugs out in the open to the college kids either across town but they did.

Do you know what is like a drug? Fond childhood memories. (I’m not explaining that, just think about it.) Memories like tomato soup and a cheese toasty (grilled cheese). I know it’s one of Greg’s warmest recollections. I’m sad to say that I didn’t have the appropriate type of cheese for the sandwich so I was not able to make any. However, Rachael Ray’s double tomato and pesto soup was amazing.

I think a nice piece of mozzarella (or smoked mozzarella) would make a great cheese toasty to go alongside this soup. I fell for it due to the pesto; I like a twist. I thought it required blending and a reduction in the amount of broth (to make it thicker) and I might double the crushed tomatoes next time but those were the only changes.

Tomato soup is a recipe that I often fall back on when I want something fast and easy. Rachael also introduced me (not personally) to a tomato soup with blended chickpeas and some spice. We loved both of her recipes and I think you will as well-if you’re a tomato soup fan.

Tomato and Pesto Soup
Tomato and Pesto Soup

Tomato and Pesto Soup
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (rinsed), chopped
½ cup dry white wine
1 to 2 cups chicken broth
28 oz. crushed tomatoes (you could double this to serve more)
½ cup pesto (store-bought or see below for my recipe)
Asiago or Parmigiano Reggiano-topping
crusty bread or mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich (I would sprinkle some salt on the cheese for the sandwich)

Pesto: You will most likely have more than the ½ cup that the recipe requires, so use as you please (perhaps layer with the mozzarella cheese toasty).
3 cups basil leaves
½ cup Parmesan
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
½ to 3/4 cup olive oil

Pesto: Place all but the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until combined and then add olive oil and pulse again to desired consistency.

In a medium pot, over medium heat, add olive oil, garlic, shallots, carrot and sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt/pepper, cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the wine and simmer for a few minutes. Add a cup of broth and the crushed tomatoes, heat to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes and it’s at this point that you could add more broth to achieve your desired consistency. Add the pesto and blend (you will need to allow it to cool before blending in a food processor, blender or with a hand blender). Adjust the seasonings, if needed and serve. Top with cheese and serve with bread or my choice, a mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich.

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