Friday, April 1, 2011

Ah, Comfort Soup

by Lucy Arlington

What a long winter it’s been! And it seems that the weather just can’t seem to decide to let spring arrive. My family and friends in Ontario feel as if the snow falling from the sky is never-ending. Friends in Virginia are teased with spring-like weather only to be assailed with another storm. They’ve even been building snowmen in California!

I’m currently living in Bermuda, so when I comment on our cold winter, those same friends and family members roll their eyes. “You live in paradise,” they say. “Stop complaining.” I don’t complain, really, because I do appreciate the fact that we haven’t had to shovel snow or pile on the heavy coats and boots this winter. And we were gifted frequently enough with a warm, sunny day during the winter months.

But the reality is that Bermuda is only semi-tropical, and unlike the Caribbean islands that stay warm most of the winter, we get rain, wind, and cool temperatures during that season. And without central heating, the main source of cold is our house. Built for hot summers, the thick limestone walls and ceramic floors keep that cool dampness inside, making it feel much colder than it should be.

We put up with it, knowing that soon the hot Bermuda days will be the norm (today is the first of April after all!), but until then, we wear sweaters and eat comfort food to stay warm. What better comfort food than a warm soup, with chunks of tasty goodness in every spoonful. This soup has been a family favorite for years. I hope you enjoy it, too.

CHUNKY TOMATO POTATO SOUP

2 tbsp butter

2 onions, chopped

4 cups peeled cubed potatoes

1½ cups chopped celery

1½ cups chopped carrots

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tbsp corn starch

2 cups milk

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1¼ cups chicken broth

2 tbsp tomato paste

½ cup chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and cook over medium heat until tender. Add potatoes, celery, carrots, garlic and seasoning and cook for 4-5 minutes.

2. Stir in cornstarch. Add milk, cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Add tomatoes, broth and paste. Return to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Add fresh basil. Season to taste.