Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015 and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Earth Day 2015: Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on every 22nd of April. Earth Day is celebrated worldwide to give support and spread the word about environmental protection.
It was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. The day was organized to help promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and and soil pollution. It has grown into a global event recognized by over 192 countries. Devoting a special day to helping the earth is a way to demonstrate how much we care about the future of our planet. No matter what you like to do best, there's a way to get involved in Earth Day. You could plant a tree, make a meal with locally-grown vegetables, educate a family member, clean up trash in your neighborhood, set up a bird feeder or save power — the possibilities are endless. Remember, you don't have to wait for Earth Day to show your love for the planet we call home-Earth.

Earth, What Will You Give Me?
by Beverly Mc Loughland

Earth, what will you give me

In summer 
In summer, 
Earth, what will you give me 
In summer 

I’ll give you my fields
Made of lilies,
Of lilies,
I’ll give you my fields
Made of lilies
And green.

And what will you give me
In autumn 

In autumn
And what will you give me
In autumn
So bold?

I’ll give you my leaves
Made of maple,
Of maple,
I’ll give you my leaves
Made of maple
And gold.

And what will you give me
In winter, 

In winter, 
What will you give me
In winter
So light?

I’ll give you my stars
Made of crystal,
Of crystal,
I’ll give you my stars
Made of crystal
And white.

And what will you give me
In springtime,
In springtime,
And what will you give me
In springtime
So new?

I’ll give you my nests
Made of grasses,
Of grasses,
I’ll give you my nests
Made of grasses
And blue. 
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” -- John Muir

Cook's notes: Wondering how to make some of your favorite restaurant dishes? Follow this link to copycat recipes for free recipes from many restaurants such as Olive Garden, Applebees and Chipolte. The recipes cover a wide range of food categories: side dishes, chicken dishes, salads,dips, gravy and desserts to name a few. 
Panera restaurant has posted many recipes and I was overjoyed to find my favorite soup from there called Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. It tastes like "the real deal" and was easy to put together. When stored in airtight container it lasts up to 5 days in the refrig or in a freezer for up to 3 months.
It is important to use higher quality canned tomatoes such as San Marzano. They are readily available at stores like Walmart, Publix and Target. The other important ingredient is using fresh basil. I purchased basil in a plastic container in produce section.  
The soup tastes better if flavors have time to meld. So either make the soup early in day before serving or the day before. 
Serves 4-6 depends on size of bowl.
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • 2 TB. good quality olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 -1/4 cups sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cans each 28 oz. San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 TB. sugar
  • 1/4 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 8 basil stems with leaves, remove stems and dice leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • In a heavy bottom pot (or dutch oven)heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add in canned tomatoes with juices. chicken stock, sugar, chopped basil and oregano. Cook uncovered for 12 minutes or until fairly thick. 
  • Using an immersion blender or regular blender puree the tomato mixture until there  are no chunks and return soup back to original pot on stove. 
Cooking tip: I found working with 3 cups at time was manageable.
  • Whisk in half and half or heavy cream. Cook on low heat uncovered for 25 minutes. 
  • Serve with your favorite grilled cheese or French bread.

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