Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Symbolism of Tomato Soup, a post by Nancy L. Agneberg

I made tomato soup yesterday. What is blog post worthy about that? Well, first of all my tomato soup is absolutely delicious and a family favorite, but that is not the main reason I am writing about tomato soup today. The main reason is that the making of tomato soup yesterday represents a turning point in the process of selling our home.  Allow me to make the connection.
     It is now September, and I LOVE fall. LOVE FALL! I know the days are shorter, and I get up to go exercise when it is still dark, and I understand that it won't be long before shovels will be on the front porch instead of wicker furniture, but before then it is fall--cooler, crisper temperatures, sweaters, pumpkins, applesauce, fresh notebooks. Well, I could go on.... The point is I don't want to miss fall because I am cleaning the house everyday to the point of obsession, a new addiction, in anticipation of potential showings. We have had lots of showings, and I am more than grateful that there continues to be interest in our home, even two showings the week before Labor Day, which I am told is unusual. However, no offers--yet. 
     Because we have been living lightly in the house, very lightly, I have not done much cooking these summer months. It was time to mess up the kitchen and what better or messier way to do it than by making tomato soup. Making tomato soup takes a large saucepan, a medium saucepan, a colander, a big bowl, a smaller bowl, a Cuisinart or food mill etc. I end up with a red stained apron, and a sink full of tomato peels and seeds, and the best late summer supper ever. Well worth messing up the kitchen. 
     I came to the decision to make a batch of tomato soup not only because the Farmers' Market was laden with gorgeous tomatoes of all varieties, but because I was musing about what the coming fall season might bring. Of course, I would love to have the house sell before the cold weather arrives, and I would love to move into an apartment here in Middleton and our new home in St Paul before we are carrying boxes in below freezing temperatures, but I realize we truly can be content this way for as long as necessary. We have a great house here, and the apartment in St Paul suits our needs perfectly. There is nothing I don't like about living in Middleton/Madison. We have lovely friends and Bruce has a stimulating, challenging job that suits him so well. Life is good and it is time to live it in the present. 
     This new revelation has resulted in a new resolve to settle in a bit more and not be as focused on selling the house. Time is on our side, and the next owner who loves this house as much as we do will appear at the right time. 
     Is there something you have not been doing? Some way you have been putting your life on the side because of something you are waiting to happen? Well, fall is a bonus time of renewed or brand new resolutions. Happy fall and bon appetit!  

Herbed Fresh Tomato Soup
Serves 8

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and quartered (5 cups)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 Tablespoons (at least) snipped fresh basil. Actually, I prefer a handful of basil. Or if necessary, 2 teaspoons dried basil
4 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper fresh thyme or basil as garnish

In large saucepan, combine butter and the oil; heat till butter melts. Add onion and cook till tender, but not brown. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, the snipped basil and thyme. Mash tomatoes slightly. Add chicken broth. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 40 minutes. Press through food mill or puree a small amount at a time in blender or Cuisinart. Strain. Return mixture to sauce pan. Stir in salt and pepper. Heat through. To serve, top with fresh herbs. 


  1. Oh Dear Nancy, How I wish I could be sitting in your kitchen, having a cup of your delicious tomato soup! Brava to you for making the decision to mix things up a little, to make a delicious mess cooking one of your favorite recipes! How tempted are we to channel our mothers' generation, feeling the need to keep every thing so perfect in our houses that are for sale, worried that some random house hunter may see us at less than the perfect image we seek to project. How much more real and honest and authentic is the desire and the decision to make delicious food and the mess that making it involves. I think your house will exude the blessings that real living there creates. A buyer will come someday; in the meantime keep cooking! Joan

  2. Thanks, Joan, I have made my second batch of tomato soup and zucchini bread, and applesauce and yes, the kitchen was messy, but in no time it was clean once again. Now, if only you and all whom I love could be at the table with me.

    1. Nancy, A first, a not been doing -- replying to your blog. Homemade tomato soup poured over Charlie Chips made wonderfully soggy, a grilled cheese sandwich on hearty whole wheat bread and homemade bread and butter pickles. Ah, comfort food at its best!!! Thank you for your "absolutely delicious" (as testimony by many of your friends' and family's exclamations and second helpings), for translating 2 pounds into 5 cups and for sharing so much of who you are. I, too mark September with new notebooks and academic calendars. JoAnn

  3. You know that trick that realtors reommend about having chocolate chip cookies bake right before a showing or open house? Maybe it should be tomato soup instead! This post made me hungry!

    1. I'll set the table too and invite them to stay awhile!

  4. Mmmm... this recipe sounds delicious and I love that you decided to make a big, red mess in your kitchen! Thinking of you, especially since we're flying to Wisconsin tomorrow (to visit my in-laws in Door County).

    1. I love thinking about you being so close. Wish you could stop in for tomato soup, grilled cheese, and applesauce!

  5. A good friend emailed the following comment which really reminded me of my mother who loved to clean and was so good at it! Here's the comment:
    Now for a more mundane comment. Today I overheard someone bemoan the fact that she did not clean like her mother once did. You know, putting the organdy curtains on stretchers. Anyone of a certain age will understand this, but to others they may wonder what planet I came from. Another woman joined in and said, "But in those days we burned with coal." Alas, I now know why I don't clean like my mother. Or, am I just getting really good at rationalizing? The truth is, I loved the upheaval and then setting things right once again. The sofa in a new spot and the crisp, fresh feeling in everything I touched. Your mother would be so proud!


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