As a tribute to the spousal unit, I wanted to post this recipe that he taught me. I love it because the base soup is really simple and the flavor is just this mildly salty, lightly tomato-y perfection that you can add ANYTHING to. Want a soup? Just use more water. Want a stew? Use less or toss some corn tortilla chunks in there. Kid’s learning to use a spoon? Use small pasta and make the base thick with a scoop of sour cream. Need to get your vitamins? Use wheat pasta and load it with spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, and shredded chicken. Want a party in your mouth? Add andouille sausage and kidney beans. Need a chili enema because you haven’t pooped in 9 days? Dump some salsa roja in there!
Tomato Pasta Soup
Ingredients (for the base):
- 1 cup Pasta (elbow, rotini, small shells, penne)
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil* (Don’t be cheap alert)
- 4-6 cups of water, depending on whether you want a soup or stew base. If you will be adding lots of veggies or beans or shredded meat, use 6 cups
- 4oz Tomato Sauce
- 1/2 to 1 large cube chicken bouillon
- 1/2 large yellow onion (cut onion in half, don’t chop it up)
- 1/2 head of garlic (use the half that keeps the cloves held together)
- Salt to taste
- In a medium-sized pot, add the EVOO and the pasta. Stir to coat and turn on your flame. Don’t make the flame too high as the pasta will brown quickly. Give it a few stirs and keep a close eye. This is not the time to refill your wine glass or go on some philosophical rant. Save that for the simmering part.
- Once you see the pasta is a lightly fried, add the water, tomato sauce, and aromatics, which are the onion and garlic. If you like herbs, you can experiment with other aromatics like dill or basil, but the garlic and onion are the minimum.
- Once you get a simmer going, add your bouillon and a little salt.
- Simmer for 20 minutes to get the pasta nice and soft, especially if this is for young children.
- Once the base is done, remove the aromatics and discard. Add more salt, a little at a time, until you get it to your liking.
Chef’s Note: I always hated that term ‘to taste’ until I started cooking with spices a lot. Allow me to demystify it for you. ‘To taste’ means you add a little of your seasoning and you stir and give it a taste. Repeat the process until you like the flavor. Be patient here because you can add more, but you can’t remove seasoning. I also realized you can’t really be specific about seasoning because cooks modify ingredients and this changes how much additional seasoning you need to make your food taste, in your specific opinion, groovy.
Now that you have your base, you can store for up to a week. I recommend you prep it Sunday night and have a yummy go-to for lunches or a quick dinner. You can add more seasoning to a serving, a handful of steamed veggies, sour cream if you want a richer base, or even toss in tortilla chips and a little chicken or avocado to a serving. The point is versatility, getting the calories and nutrients you need, and low-cost. The more you keep stuff like this prepped in your fridge, the less you reach for grease-stained sacks handed through a window.