Monday, March 25, 2013

Easy Tomato Florentine Soup

I finally made use of my last unopened bridal shower gift – the Dutch oven! According to Wikipedia, Dutch ovens are well suited for long, slow cooking, such as in making roasts, stews, and casseroles.  I went the more commercial route for my first Dutch oven, opting for a Calphalon non-stick aluminum one instead of cast iron.  I figured it would be easier to use, but I already have my eyes on a spare Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch oven that’s lying around my Dad’s house… and it’s red! It just may find its way into my car next time I’m visiting him! Although the Dutch oven was high on my registry list, I left it in the box (and stored in the guest bedroom closet) for several months before using it.  What was I thinking!?!? The 5-quart dish made cooking soup much easier than the other 3-4 quart saucepans that I’d been using.  Now I have a project for this week – organizing pots and pans to make room for the Dutch oven in the kitchen cabinets.

I echo Good Life Eats enthusiasm for having a stocked kitchen.  KK and I already had all of the soup ingredients in stock, so I’ll keep this recipe in mind for the rare evening when we need a last-minute dinner plan! The original recipe called for 3-5 cups of vegetable/chicken broth, so I made the executive decision to use 4 cups.  Things looked rather liquidy while simmering, but most of the broth was absorbed when I added the pasta.  Dinner ended up being more like a watery pasta instead of soup.  I've updated the directions below, recommending that you use 5 cups of broth to get the perfect soup-to-pasta ratio.

Easy Tomato Florentine Soup
Adapted from Good Life Eats
Serves: 4
Time: 40 minutes


8 oz. small pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 - 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained and juice reserved
1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 3 cloves
2 tablespoons flour
2 bay leaves
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
salt & pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes (reserve juices for a later use). Cook until the tomatoes begin to dry, about 13 minutes.

3. Add the garlic to the dutch oven, stir, and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the flour and continue to cook for another minute.

4. Stir in the reserved tomato juice and bay leaves. Pour broth slowly into the Dutch oven.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.

5. Remove bay leaves; stir in pasta, spinach and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, serve with baguette and grated Parmesan.

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