I once spent a summer as a counselor at a sleep away camp in the Catskills. (Stay with me…this is going somewhere about kids and nutrition.) I was in charge of 10, eight year old girls for nearly two months. From that description, you can pretty much figure I had a challenging summer. My days were long and all I really looked forward to was the one day a week I had off and mealtimes–it was the only time of day that all those kids would sit still. I especially loved heading to the cafeteria on Tuesdays, tomato soup and grilled cheese day. We'd get a platter piled high with about 30 grilled cheese sandwiches and our server would dole out endless ladles of soup. Ever since grilled cheese and tomato soup have been one of my favorite lunches or dinners. Swarming with lycopene, tomato soup is a super, healthy comfort food and this recipe shoehorns in a ton of cheese (low-fat, of course). Hi Soup, meet my friend grilled cheese sandwich, in a bowl.
I love that when I step into the kitchen, Scarlett immediately follows. She is starting to initiate her participation in our cooking sessions. It makes for a challenge if I'm in a rush, but she picks up on that too. She seems to know when to get the heck out of the way and color at the table instead. However, on this day she owned it. I took a nap and she made the soup from Whole Foods. OK, that's a total lie, but she did do a lot of the work.
Tomato and Cheddar Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups grated low-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 tablespoon butter
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium pot. Add celery, onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Place small portions in food processor and blend until smooth. (You can leave it hearty and not process.) Place back in the pot that has been removed from the heat and stir in cheese, milk and butter. Ladle soup into bowls, top with cheddar toast and serve.
Scarlett enjoyed stirring the celery/onion/garlic mixture, but I had to keep moving it to an element that was off so she would be safe. I don't recommend this as it adds to the cooking time. Luckily, for me, on this day, we actually had the time. Go figure.
I've also started to let her measure ingredients now. I admit it usually leads to a bit of a mess, but she's also learning about clean up. I'm hoping this will translate into her cleaning her own bathroom. Too soon?
I brushed some of our favorite bread with olive oil and sprinkled it with a few bits of the leftover cheese and toasted it. Then I used a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. I floated the toast on top of the soup and served it along side some veggies and fruit. Scarlett loved the toast cut outs and they definitely taste great in the bowl.
This recipe yeilded enough for two nights of dinner, and I never once missed the grilled cheese. Maybe a little.