Two things happened a few weeks ago. First, I got this amazing free sample from Muir Glen. It was four cans of tomatoes delivered in this beautiful wood crate. Very fancy. I was impressed. In the box was fire roasted tomatoes and organic tomatoes. I use a lot of canned tomatoes, so I was excited about the sample and put them in the cupboard for future use. Then, Christmas Eve we went to dinner at Carrabba’s and I had a bowl of the most amazing Fire Roasted Tomato Soup. Brianna ate as much of it as I did, and Josh tested it and declared it a winner. Well, as any parent of a toddler knows, when you find something made nearly entirely of vegetables, you add it to your meal rotation. And as anyone who knows my husband knows, he’s a slightly picky eater so in this case…treat it like a toddler said they liked it!

So I immediately went on the hunt for a Carrabba’s clone of the Fire Roasted Tomato Soup. I didn’t find one, exactly, but I did find a recipe on the Muir Glen website and since they had sent me fire roasted tomatoes, I figured it was destiny! So this week I made this soup for my family. Josh and I both really liked it, and it was easy to make. Brianna was willing to eat it but even with the minimal amount of spices in it, it turned out too spicy for her, which is a huge bummer. I’ll do it different next time to avoid that, because Josh and I can spice it later if needed. Regardless, I highly recommend this recipe! One note, this doesn’t make a huge pot of soup. This is a recipe that’s just right for three to four adults, as it says before, so if you’re feeding more you’ll want to double the recipe.

I served this with homemade Italian Bread, recipe from allrecipes.com but pasted below the soup recipe. Using the bread machine, this was also very easy, though it takes a little planning ahead in your day since the dough needs to go through the dough cycle plus rise than bake. But it takes little effort on your part to make. Score!

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
Fire roasted tomatoes and a touch of cream add a richness to this tomato soup.

Prep Time:20 min
Start to Finish:50 min
Makes:4 servings (1 1/3 cups each)

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) Muir GlenĀ® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14 oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, cilantro leaves or Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup whipping cream

1. In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until onion is crisp-tender.
2. Stir in tomatoes, broth, 1 tablespoon of the basil, the sugar and pepper flakes. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; pour mixture into large heatproof bowl; cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
3. In blender, place half of the mixture. Cover; blend until pureed. Return to saucepan. Repeat with remaining mixture. Heat over medium heat until hot. Remove from heat. Stir in cream and remaining 1 tablespoon basil.

Bread Machine Italian Bread

INGREDIENTS (Nutrition)

* 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
* 1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (per the reviews I cut this to 1 tsp of salt and it was fine)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
* 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
*
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon water
* 2 tablespoons cornmeal

DIRECTIONS

1. Place flour, brown sugar, warm water, salt, olive oil and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
2. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Form dough into two loaves. Place the loaves seam side down on a cutting board generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise, until doubled in volume about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
3. In a small bowl, beat together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the risen loaves with egg mixture. Make a single long, quick cut down the center of the loaves with a sharp knife. Gently shake the cutting board to make sure that the loaves are not sticking. If they stick, use a spatula or pastry knife to loosen. Slide the loaves onto a baking sheet with one quick but careful motion.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

*note about the bread. I used a baking stone and baked them side by side. Rather than move them around, I just let them rise right on the baking stone, which worked out very well. I covered the baking stone with parchment paper, and skipped the cornmeal. This is a slightly denser bread (more like an artisan bread, a little more chewy, like they’d serve at Carabba’s) but not too dense.

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