Tomato Bisque


This is a rich, tomatoey soup that is a big hit with almost everyone I’ve served it to.  We all grew up eating Campbell’s tomato soup.  When I was a kid, long long ago, on Saturday nights we often had tomato soup with popcorn in it.  It’s actually a very good combo.  I saw a recipe a while back for tomato popcorn soup in an issue of  Food Network magazine.  Of course they used popcorn with truffle oil and grated truffle percorino cheese but even so,  they must have channeled my mother.  I think our family had this because it was a very inexpensive dinner that went a long way.  Truffle oil and truffle percorino would have defeated the purpose.  Plus the little general store in my hometown carried neither.  This soup recipe also uses a little Campbell’s but it’s the add-ins that make it so amazing.  The recipe originated from a bar-restaurant in Jackson Michigan.  I’ve modified it a bit by adding red or orange bell pepper, fresh garlic, and fresh basil.  I also use my home canned stewed tomatoes but good store bought stewed tomatoes work great.


4 T butter

1 large sweet onion diced

1 red or orange bell pepper diced

4-5 garlic cloves sliced

3 pints stewed tomatoes

1 large family size can Campbell’s tomato soup

8 oz cream cheese

1 T dried basil

3 cups half-n-half

salt and pepper to taste

fresh basil and  Asiago cheese for garnish


Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or heavy kettle over medium high heat and add the onions and peppers.  Cook until they are tender, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two until the garlic is fragrant.


Reduce the heat.  Stir in the tomatoes and tomato soup.  Cube the cream cheese and add that to the tomatoes.

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Cook over low heat until heated through.  Stir in the dried basil and salt and pepper to taste.  Use an immersion blender and purée the soup.  If you don’t have an immersion blender you can add the soup, in batches, to your food processor or blender.  Stir in the half-n-half.  Continue to cook over low heat until the soup comes to a simmer.  Serve it up garnished with fresh chiffonaded basil, shredded cheese and croutons.  I used Asiago cheese and croutons made from swirl rye.  Enjoy!


NOTE:  You can add some diced oven dried tomatoes, diced green onion, or another favorite cheese like sharp cheddar or smoked Gouda.  This soup can also double as an awesome sauce for vegetable crepes or pasta dishes.  This soup  freezes beautifully.


Irish Soda Bread


One of my daughter’s friends recently asked me for a recipe for Soda Bread and it reminded me that it I been a long time since I’d made it myself.  It’s a very simple, rustic bread.  No yeast.  No proofing.  No rising.  Very little kneading.  Easy to pull together.  I think I got this recipe years ago from a newspaper article on traditional St. Patrick’s day dishes and I tweeked it a bit.   I love adding citrus zest, preferably orange but even grapefruit zest brightens it up.  It tastes best warm from the oven but then most breads do.


4 cups AP flour

4 T granulated sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 T baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold butter cubed

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 egg

1 tsp citrus zest (I used orange)


Preheat the oven to 375.  Whisk together dry ingredients.  Cube the butter.  In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed in.

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Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and zest.  With the mixer running on low add the buttermilk egg mixture and beat until incorporated.  The dough will be moist and a little sticky.  Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times sprinkling with a little additional flour if necessary.  Shape into a round loaf and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

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Mix together:

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup buttermilk

Generously brush the loaf with the butter-buttermilk mixture.  I also brush the mixture on a couple additional times during the baking process.  Bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Cool on a wire rack.  Slice and enjoy!  Great with a little drizzle of honey or homemade preserves.

Corned Beef the Next Day and the Next

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and because we love it no matter the day, I made a corned beef on Sunday with cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  I cooked it all afternoon and the house smelled wonderful.  I posted the corned beef recipe that I use last April.  It was taught to me by a dear friend who used to host a St. Patrick’s Day celebration every year.  There were just two of us feasting on a large pot of meat and veggies so we had a lot of leftovers.  Some people hate leftovers.  At our house we love them.  I think usually they are more interesting when they are repurposed.  But that is not always true.

Leftovers Day 1

The Brits, who I’m told are not famous for haute cuisine, have a dish called Bubble and Squeak.  It’s basically a recipe for frying up leftover cabbage, mashed potatoes, and meat.  I decided to give Bubble and Squeak a shot using my own interpretation and the leftovers we had.  It’s not complicated.


The Ingredients I used:

1 small onion diced

2 cloves of garlic sliced

2 stalks of celery chopped

1 T canola oil

1 T butter

Chopped cooked cabbage

Diced corned beef

Boiled potatoes and carrots smashed

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat and sauté the onion, celery and garlic until tender.


While the onions are cooking slice and dice the corned beef.

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Smash the potatoes and carrots.

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Add the cabbage and corned beef to the skillet.


Top with the smashed potatoes and carrots and heat through.


Now if you’re extremely talented in the kitchen flip the bubble and squeak over in the pan.  Use a plate or pan lid to assist with the flip so that both sides are lightly browned.  If you’re not extremely talented follow my lead…brush a little butter on the top and put the pan under the broiler until the top is lightly browned.  Slice and serve.


I know.  It looks pretty grey and boring.  And maybe not even very appetizing.  It was “okay.”  If I’m to make this again I need to think of a way to jazz this up a little and make it more exciting.    Suggestions are welcome!

Leftovers Day 2

Rueben Sandwiches.  This was my mother’s favorite sandwich.  A favorite of mine as well.  This is an easy dinner to prepare and doesn’t require a recipe.  Good bread is a must.

The ingredients I used:


Combine Ketchup, Mayo and Sweet Relish to make Thousand Island-ish sandwich spread.

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Assemble the sandwich and grill.


This repurposed leftover was much more successful.  I served it with homemade dill pickles and vegetable chips.  You can put a little of the magic sauce on the sandwich before grilling and serve additional sauce on the side.


Looks a lot more appetizing than Bubble and Squeak doesn’t it??

I still have leftover corned beef.  Maybe corned beef hash and eggs tomorrow.