Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dark Days Challenge week 8 - Welsh rarebit and tomato soup

We've had January weather in earnest this week - plenty of cold and snow. I decided to stay on the comfort-food theme, so this week's meal featured caws pobi, or Welsh rarebit. Beer, cheese, bread - what would be better? In an attempt to add in some vegetables, I whipped up some homemade cream of tomato soup with stewed tomatoes from the freezer. I fully intended to add a salad as well, but in the end I was too tired and hungry to bother. I have definitely learned that I should make the salad first if I plan on serving it!

Welsh rarebit: this was made with raw cheddar cheese made from grass-fed milk from Meadow Maid, along with butter from Hartzler's Dairy, milk from Snowville Creamery, and a little mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, and beer (the beer was decidedly not local, being from Wychwood brewery in the UK. But it was probably my favorite beer thus far for Welsh rarebit. You can actually skip the beer and just add milk or cream, but I like it with beer.) I'm still working to perfect this dish, and I have trouble keeping the cheese and other liquids together in a unified whole. I begin to suspect that the cheese is the problem, but even though it tended to separate, both the thicker cheese goo and the beer-milk-mustard liquid were completely delicious. I served the dish over focaccia bread from the farmer's market (as it was the only bread on hand), and it was a surprisingly good combination.

Cream of tomato soup: I'll admit that I didn't actually add cream - just a little 2% milk at the end to give the soup a little body. This was the first time that the soup didn't come out tasting like marinara sauce! I used a base of onions, garlic, and carrots, sauteing them as I would for any soup. Next I added a pint and a half of stewed tomatoes from the freezer, then added chicken stock to cover. (You could easily use a vegetable stock and keep it vegetarian.) I let the soup cook until the stock reduced (about 30-45 minutes I think), then hit it with an immersion blender. I let it cool a little before adding the milk at the end. It was a far cry from the velvety-smooth canned tomato soup of my childhood, but it had a robust texture and great taste. The only seasonings were salt, pepper, and a little thyme (which I seem to put in everything these days.)


Anonymous said...

I love tomato soup. And yes, for some reason I too have been using thyme a lot in cooking - rosemary too. Maybe its because lots of "winter foods" go well with those flavors?

Anne said...

I wish I had some fresh rosemary to cook with! (The plants always get spider mites and die in our house.) Or even better, savory - we got a bunch in our CSA this year (I can't remember if it was summer or winter savory) and it was like a very mellow rosemary. I should probably order some seeds so I can grow it in the spring!