My favorite lunches are those on rainy days when we’re comfortable and dry inside watching the raindrops race each other down the windowpanes. I believe lunch is meant to be more than a quick bite between errands or appointments. The day can seem a lot less hectic if a few moments are spared to sit at the table and eat peacefully. I’ve loved tomato soup for as long as I can remember. Whether with grilled cheese sandwiches or soda crackers, it’s an instant mood lifter for the midday meal.
Nearly all Southerners have a recipe of a version of pimento cheese that they like to make. Serving it slathered on bread beside a bowl of tomato soup takes two simple staples and turns them into a real meal. With a lunch like this, thoughts can easily drift away from what the afternoon might bring and instead, remind you that the day just got so much better.
Classic Pimento Cheese
No one can get far down South without falling in love with this signature combination of simple ingredients. The one rule to remember is to always grate your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese simply will not do. This classic version is best served between two slices of soft white bread.
Ingredients: Makes 1 3/4 cups
- 1 (10-ounce) block extra sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
- 2 tablespoons finely diced white onion
- 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Grate the Cheddar cheese using the large holes of a box grater. Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, onion, and Worcestershire sauce in a medium mixing bowl. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Real Tomato Soup
Tomato soup is not tomato soup when it’s made with canned tomatoes. Using fresh, ripe tomatoes doesn’t have to mean a long time at the stove. Skipping the peeling and seeding is one way to save a large amount of prep time. The soup is pureed before serving, so all the nutrition of the peel is blended right in.
Ingredients: Makes 4 1/2 cups
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 1/4 pounds Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- Fresh basil, sliced, for garnish
1. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
2. Add the chicken broth, chopped tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cover the stockpot and cook for 6 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat. Use a hand blender to puree the soup right in the stockpot. Or puree in batches with a traditional blender.
4. Return the stockpot to low heat. Add the cream, basil, and oregano. Cook for 3 more minutes.
5. Garnish with basil, if desired.
For more information about Rebecca Lang, visit www.rebeccalangcooks.com
Reprinted with permission from Quick-Fix Southern by Rebecca Lang. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011.
Photo credit: Dennis McDaniel