originally posted 3/14/2011

As a kid, I didn’t like tomatoes. In fact, I LOATHED tomatoes. I wouldn’t touch a tomato with a 10 foot pole. If one happened to sneak its way onto my plate, it would be promptly stowed away in a napkin and tossed to the far end of the galaxy. Over the course of growing up, however, I’ve come to terms with tomatoes’ existence, and while I still don’t care to eat them raw (with the exception of chunky salsa), I enjoy them in most cooked dishes. And surprisingly, I’ve come to the point where I even like a steamy hot bowl of tomato soup.

Te inspiration for this soup came when I happened upon some parmesan rinds on sale at the grocery store, and couldn’t resist buying them for later experimentation.

As usual, the result was soup. Forever and Always my favorite medium. I started out by cooking some onion and garlic in olive oil until soft, added 4 cups of water, then seasoning liberally with oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and a small shake of chili powder because I’m a sucker for the stuff. In went the parmesan rinds, and I let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, and become a flavorful and delicious-smelling broth. I imagine from this point I could have taken the soup any number of ways, but I discovered an open can of tomato paste in the fridge (left over from my coq au vin attempt…more on that later), so the soup promptly, and somewhat accidentally, became tomato soup.

With the addition of tomato paste, a new problem emerged. In my opinion, canned tomato paste reigns up there with Campbell’s cream of mushroom…When they’re used in a dish, you always KNOW they’ve been used. They’ve got that certain distinctive flavor anyone can recognize a mile off. Don’t get me wrong, these are both great products, but sometimes they need a little disguising to keep them from being so blatantly obvious and even overpowering. Success isn’t when someone takes a spoonful of tomato soup and says “this tastes like watered-down tomato paste”, y’know? In an effort to smooth out the flavor and cut down on the tomato-paste-y-ness of it all, I spooned in some sugar, then began rummaging through my spice drawer for something else that might help regain balance. So, add in a small shake of poultry seasoning? hmm. maybe. how about Rosemary, then? no. Thyme? no. Vietnamese Extra Fancy Cinnamon? Yes please.

What? Don’t you have any?

Of course, any cinnamon would do just fine. But there’s just something about fresh, high-quality spices that gives any recipe a kick in the pants, where average (*cough* old and stale *cough*) supermarket spices fall short. Try it and see, you’ll be spoiled for life. By the way, apologies for the fact that I still lack the sophistication to use Photoshop and instead resort to using Paint to “edit” photos. Don’t act like you aren’t impressed.

Anyway, in go a few shakes of PENZEYS SPICES VIETNAMESE EXTRA FANCY CINNAMON…..and…..done!

Oh wait, I also added a little bit of frozen spinach just because a) it was there and b) there it was. I let the soup continue to simmer a little while longer, giving all the flavors a chance to mingle and get acquainted with one another, before adding a splash of cream (ok, I only wish it were cream, but I didn’t have any. It was milk), giving a quick stir, and then topping it off with a generous extra helping of shredded cheese.

Result? Delicious 🙂

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