Heirloom Tomato Soup: Cheap and Guiltless

Heirloom Tomato Soup

As the weather gets cooler I find myself craving warm comfort. I’ve said it before and ill say it again, soup is the starving artist’s secret weapon: low cost, high yield, mega satisfying. Lately I’ve been eating my stress, which is never good. This weekend I decided I needed to make something warm, satisfying, and completely guilt free. I had grilled cheese on the brain (more on this in another post) and so I naturally thought of tomato soup. I tell you I was tempted to buy a box of Trader Joe’s tomato soup. Like, whatever, I just want soup, I don’t care. And then I came to my senses and realized that for a few more dollars I could make a big pot of my own soup that would knock the pants off of TJ.

So here is what I purchased:

  • 1 package of TJ mini heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 24 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 box vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh basil

And here’s what I used from my own pantry:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt, crushed red pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sugar
  • Tomato paste (in a tube in my fridge)
  • 2 tsp dried basil
Heirloom Tomato Soup
Heirloom Tomato Soup

All I did was get my big enamel soup pot over medium high heat with just enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Toss in the heirloom tomatoes and let them heat up while you dice half the red onion (be sure to stir them around occasionally). Once the tomatoes have been heated for 8-10 minutes, add the onion with a good pinch of kosher salt, a few pinches of crushed red pepper, and the dried basil. Once the onions soften, use a garlic press to press in two cloves of fresh garlic right into the pot. Then add a good squeeze (about two tbsp) of tomato paste. Stir and cook for one minute then add the two cans of tomatoes, about 2 cups of the vegetable broth, bay leaves, and about two teaspoons of sugar. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, add the fresh basil, and use a stick blender to puree to desired consistency. Feeds 4-6 people easily. Delicious, healthy, and totally homemade.

Serving suggestions/variations:

  • Adding a can of fire roasted tomatoes will add a new dimension of flavor to your soup
  • Using diced carrots along with the onions will contribute to sweetness and add more flavor
  • Try topping your bowl with some sliced avocado. Or, if you’re feeling indulgent, some grated gruyere cheese. Mmmmmm.

Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable Soup

Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable SoupI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if the starving artist has one best friend, it is soup. Bang for your buck, hearty, delicious, and (usually) really healthy. This week I’ve been racking my brain as to what I could cook for dinner that won’t completely destroy all my healthy efforts but is also not a salad or scrambled eggs…. yes, this is what my life has come to.

Vegetables are of course the go to when trying to maintain or improve one’s figure, but come on, how many salads can one consume before having a psychotic breakdown? Now ROASTING vegetables is something I can get behind. The depth of flavor one gets is amazing, but aside from tossing them with brown rice, you can’t really  make a meal of a plate of vegetables…. and then it hit me. There’s a restaurant near me, Tender Greens, that makes soup out of their seasoned grilled veggies. Why not do the same thing here, except up the flavor quotient by using curry powder and some coconut cream. Well, let me tell you, the outcome is one tasty friggin’ soup that is completely vegan and completely amazing.

It’s super easy – all it entails is roasted a few pans of your favorite vegetables, then bringing them to a simmer in a broth made of Trader Joe’s vegetable stock, Trader Joe’s coconut cream, and a few spices. Then you puree and voila, a hearty meal to keep you energized and full without the guilt. Check out the recipe below.

Curried Coconut Roasted Vegetable Soup (Recipe PDF)

For the record, I wish I took the photo before I pureed the soup just so you could see all the colors and big chunks of vegetables. Trust me, it’s good stuff.

Also, I have not forgotten about valentine’s day. Look for a v-day post from me on here tomorrow – and don’t worry, there will be nothing heart-shaped coming out of this kitchen! In the meantime check out my facebook and twitter for fun v-day recipes I’ve been finding, like better-than-sex Chex mix. Any excuse for chocolate is ok in my book.

Starving Artist Rotisserie Chicken Soup

I know, it’s cold outside. Really cold. Maybe you’re feeling under the weather or battling that nasty cold that’s been going around. In your desire for some warm, soothing comfort, you open your cabinet, pull out the can with that ubiquitous red and white label, and reach for your can opener. No one blames you – we’ve all been there. The starving artist is here to tell you that you don’t need to fall into this trap. You can have hearty, comforting, HOMEMADE chicken soup with that all-day slow-cooked rich flavor in less than 40 minutes. Seriously.

How does the starving artist do it? Let Costco do all the slow-cooking for you by grabbing one of their $5 rotisserie chickens. That cheap little chicken is all the depth and flavor you need to make a killer soup. With just a few additional ingredients – veggies, noodles, and stock – you’re going to have the best soup you’ve ever had in practically no time at all. Watch the video and see how it’s done!

Here’s the recipe in printed form:
Starving Artist Rotisserie Chicken Soup (Recipe PDF)

This soup will last in your fridge for 5 days and also freezes very well if you happen to make too much.

I really REALLY want you to try this recipe. Homemade soup is perhaps the starving artist’s greatest weapon. It is filling, it is healthy, and there is no other food that will give you bigger bang for your buck without sacrificing quality. Try it once and you’ll never waste your money on canned soup again. Hooray!

New Episode Tomorrow!

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Friends, I’m pleased to announce that tomorrow I’ll be posting a new episode of the Starving Artist!

Looking for a cheap and easy dish that will warm your body in soul in those frigid single digit temperatures? Tomorrow I’ll show you how to take a $5 rotisserie chicken from Costco and turn it into a big steaming pot of homemade chicken soup that tastes better than your grandma’s and can be ready in less than 40 minutes. It’s the perfect comfort food to melt away all that cold and ice and make you feel all warm and gooey inside. Tune in tomorrow!

And don’t forget, you can all episodes of the show by clicking on the video tab at the top of the page or, better yet, by visiting my YouTube channel and becoming a subscriber. Hooray!

Starving Artist Jambalaya

Last night I was struck with the inspiration to make a hearty dish involving beans and meat. I really have no idea why. Maybe it’s because I’m so desperate for fall that I decided I needed to make a dish suitable for cool fall weather. Or maybe I just really wanted something cajun… who knows… What I did know is that I wanted something thick and hearty involving sausage, beans, and rice.

I have to tell you I really went back and forth on what to call this. Originally I was going to call it a “cajun stew”, but it really isn’t a stew – much too thick. And technically it’s not really jambalaya because it doesn’t have seafood…. but then I remembered that I’m the starving artist and I really don’t care. The real joy of cooking is creating things we love to eat, so why not make things exactly how we want them. While I love seafood, it doesn’t really fit into my starving artist budget. Kidney beans, however, do. As does a rotisserie chicken from Costco. Voila. Starving artist jambalaya.

Fair warning, there are a lot of spices in this recipe. Do not be intimidated. I know spices can be a little pricey, but I have to tell you, they are a fantastic investment: buy them once and they will be flavoring your dishes for months. But hey, if you don’t want to invest right now, leave them out. Even if you had just the cajun seasoning, you’ll still have a tasty and fantastic dish.

Enjoy!

Starving Artist Jambalaya (Recipe PDF)