Friday, October 2, 2009

Saffron Tomato Soup

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If I could change one thing about LA, it would be to give it more October. It's a golden month, a month of "mists and mellow fruitfulness," a brief but glorious respite between the oppresive heat of September and the November rains. It's a time of lacy shadows and leaves gently crunching underfoot, chilly nights, and mornings filled with the earthy smells of autumn. And soup - I always look forward to making soup during this month.

Like October, this soup is mellow and gentle, golden red and rich with vegetables and the fall, putting you in mind of curling up under cozy blankets and gathering wood for your fireplace. I make it all the time and use it as a base to build different flavors, depending on my mood. A. likes it with chicken, but I sometimes throw in black beans and corn for a southwestern flair; mussels seem particularly happy when snuggled together in this broth, and there have been several occasions when I've made it into a hacked version of a bouillabaisse. Most of the time, though, I like it just like I made it last night - simple, comforting, and filling my house with the warmth of autumn.

Saffron Tomato Soup

This is a very basic soup and sometimes, it feels kind of like cheating because it's so quick to make, but so very rich and flavorful. I don't buy canned food other than organic canned tomatoes, but if you don't want to use those, just dice 3-4 medium tomatoes and simmer in a little salted water until very soft, and use that instead. The combination of chicken and vegetable broths gives this soup an extra heartiness and saffron is the secret ingredient that adds a certain dimension, a goldenness and an aroma that's difficult to describe but noticeable if absent.

2 cups chicken broth (or 1 c. chicken broth, 1 c. white wine)
2 cups vegetable broth
32 oz can of organic, no-salt-added chopped tomatoes
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
2 pinches of dried saffron
1 lb mushrooms, sliced (optional)
4-5 chicken drumsticks (optional)

If using chicken drumsticks, wash, dry and season with salt and pepper the night before.

In a medium-sized pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Dice the onion the way you like to eat it - I like mine medium diced for this soup, but some like it finely diced. Saute the onion for 3-5 minutes, until softened and translucent, but don't let it brown. Add crushed garlic and saute for another minute, until fragrant. (If using mushrooms, add them with garlic and saute just a little).

Add the chicken and vegetable broths (and wine, if using), and also add the tomatoes - I usually do not drain them. Pinch the dried saffron between your fingers, to break up the strains a little, and add to the soup. Toss in the dried thyme. If using chicken, also add it now.

Bring to a boil and then back down to a medium simmer, and simmer for about half an hour or until the chicken is tender and cooked all the way through. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot.

19 comments:

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I love the added saffron. It takes a basic tomato soup and boosts it up a level:)

Manggy said...

I can't believe it ever gets cool in LA! :) Well, nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain... But this soup should keep us company even then :)

♥peachkins♥ said...

I am a soup person. I like any kind of soup and tomato is one of my favorites. Adding saffron sounds really fantastic.

Irene said...

Guns n' Roses, I love it!!!!! Very clever! :)

Elra said...

Luxury tomato sauce with saffron is always welcome in my family.

Y said...

We're experiencing "October rains" at the moment. I too feel like a nice big bowl of soup :)

Barbara said...

Great soup recipe but I love your soup bowls!

Irene said...

Thanks! I love bowls of any kind, I actually kind of collect them, and these are really cool because they are oven-safe. Artichoke dip, here I come!

Helene said...

My husband just asked for a tomato soup the other night. I should try this one :)

willowbirdbaking said...

Mmm, I would love a bowl of this right now! With some crusty bread for sopping!

I love your bowls too.

Ash said...

I in such a soup frenzy at the moment!! That's all I want to eat!
This looks truly delicious!!

The Caked Crusader said...

I love that you've left some texture in the tomatoes - so often tomato soup is smooth, but I like it more rustic, like yours. Looks delish.

Irene said...

Thanks :) Most of the time, I like soup where I can taste the ingredients.

Juliana said...

Oh! You are right, this soup is just perfect for LA weather now... Love the saffron in it...

cedar hope chests said...

It is really soup season! I have been browsing through some blogs and all I see are soups, soups and soups! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Bunny said...

This looks fantastic, come on over to Pa. our Autumns are always so pretty

Michele said...

Wow! This soup looks so amazing. Great recipe!

delightfullysweet said...

Great soup recipe!
I am always on the lookout for new ways to make a recipe great!

Gavin Rogers said...

try tomato growing this way you can get easy tomatoes for this dish.