Comfort Soup – Tomato Basil w Anchovy

A hot bowl of creamy tomato basil soup wards off the winter chill. What’s nice about this soup is that it in contains no fresh tomatoes. Nope, the canned ones work better than the fresh ones in this soup. So, you can make this comfort food from stockpiles in the pantry. For the more adventurous amongst my reads, it’s true, you can add a small can of anchovies to this soup after you blend the tomatoes and it will add a whole lot of salty, fishy, goodness…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small can anchovy fillets
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Start by sautéing the onion, garlic, and basil in olive oil, then add the tomatoes, broth, and a dash of sea salt. Let this cook together in the pot for about an hour.

Grab your immersion blender and blend this till is nice and smooth. Add in the anchovies and half and half and let that simmer another fifteen minutes or so.

When you’re ready to ladle this out, get some nice heavy stoneware bowls and top the soup with some freshly grated parmesan I like to serve this with garlic bread, also topped with parmesan (or a small anchovy pizza).

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Your Own Loaf of Meat

So, continuing this ‘comfort food’ series, today I will reveal the secret to a really good meatloaf… venison! Yup, from right here on Long Island. Fresh deer meat mixed with ground beef to make a lean loaf that’s good for your health.

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 lb ground venison
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 rashers of bacon diced
  • 1 medium onion coarsely grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 cups of fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 3 juniper berries crushed
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the bacon bits, then drain on a paper towel and toss into a large mixing bowl.

Add the venison, beef, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, thyme, juniper, vinegar, egg and mix this all together with your hands. Yup, have to do it with your own two un-gloved hands. Make that connection with your creation.

Now, just because I use thyme and juniper, doesn’t mean that you have to. The thing that makes meatloaf a real comfort food is that it is made from whatever makes YOU feel good. If you want to use oregano, mushrooms, and A1 sauce, go right ahead. Meatloaf is as personalized as fingerprints (another good reason for making your fingers a part of the process).

Spoon the mixture on to a foil covered baking sheet and shape it into a loaf shape. Bake in the oven about an hour and fifteen, then take it out and left it rest about five minutes before cutting and serving and challenging your guests to guess what ingredients YOU used… trust me, this last part makes for interesting conversation if you are an unconventional cook.