Every school day morning I stand in my chilly kitchen, sometimes pre-dawn, and make my kids breakfast and while they eat that, lunch. The elementary school starts at 8:00 and its about 7:30 when my ten-year old climbs up on the stool and sits down to her warm breakfast. It’s about that time too, that half a dozen kids from the apartment house down the block pass by our kitchen window. They’re off to school earlier than us, so they have time to eat breakfast there. These kids whose families are in need get free or reduced pricing on breakfast and lunch. I am so grateful we have a system that will make sure they get at least two meals a day. And I am doubly grateful that I am able to feed my children nutritious meals at home.
A warm breakfast in our own kitchen, while hair is brushed, permission slips signed, lost library books found. Usually eggs – scrambled or in a sandwich – sometimes oatmeal with warm berry syrup. And while they eat that, I pack their lunches. One peanut butter and jelly (don’t cut it please!) and two ham and cheese sandwiches, sometimes turkey for variety. They grab a banana, a granola bar, a cookie to go with it and shove it into their bags as they run out the door, just barely on time.
We are so lucky.
Today I have joined with other food bloggers around the country to raise awareness, and funds for a campaign to feed hungry children in South Africa. Called The Lunchbox Fund, the campaign is on its way to feeding nearly 4 million children in South Africa who go hungry each day. United under the umbrella of The Giving Table, we food bloggers hope to raise $5000 this week to contribute to the cause. $5000 would feed 100 South African school children one meal a day for a year.
As I know you are a person who understands the power of lunch, I urge you to join me. I have donated $30, ten dollars each in honor of my three children. If you all do the same, we could really make a difference. Click on the link below to see a video about the program.
I do believe that every meal can nourish our souls and our minds. In a perfect world every meal would. We’re trying to get as close as possible to that goal.
What’s your favorite lunch? I have a few, but high on the list has to be the classic cream of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s also a favorite with my family of course. I grew up with the soup that came from the ubiquitous red and white can, and my kids have often enjoyed the elevated version of that: Organic Cream of Tomato Soup from Pacific Foods. Better, but not great. Recently I’ve gotten them to expand their horizons to homemade tomato soup, even without the cream!
This Tomato Soup, full of the flavors of the South of France, is my current favorite, with or without the grilled cheese sandwich. I grabbed this recipe from The Splendid Table last week, when it was really cold out. It is perfect the way it is, I wouldn’t change a thing! As per the recipe, I did add a dollop of fresh goat cheese when I served it the first time, so did my kids. When melted and stirred into the soup, the cheese added the longed for creaminess. The next day I had it without the goat cheese, but alongside a grilled cheese sandwich embellished with sautéed chard – a lovely, grown up grilled cheese.
I don’t always like cinnamon in savory foods, but I am glad I didn’t leave it out. In this soup it adds just the right hint of mystery and warmth. I couldn’t get enough of it.
While the soup simmers, you can hop over to The Lunchbox Fund’s page on Causes. It only takes a minute to make a donation, and to make a difference. Thank you, from the bottom of their empty tummies.
South of France Tomato Soup
By February 11, 2014Published:
- Yield: 4-6 Servings
From The Splendid Table. As Lynne Rosetta Kasper says "resist the temptation to substitute fresh herbs here". (I actually used 2 teaspoons of Herbes de Provence in place of the four herbs listed at the beginning of the recipe. You could do either with equal success. The written recipe calls for 2 pounds fresh, good tasting tomatoes, or the canned ones. Since there isn't a good tasting tomato in sight at this time of year I used canned, and wrote it up that way.
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil generous
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed generous
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano generous
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme generous
- good tasting extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium onions finely chopped
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 large garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste generous
- 1/3 cup dry vermouth (or white wine)
- 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes with their liquid, crushed I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon generous
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese crumbled
- Combine the herbs in a small cup. Crush them lightly until they become fragrant. Set aside.
- Film the bottom of a 6-quart pot with olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, salt and pepper and cook until golden brown ( about 5 to 8 minutes), stirring often. Add the herbs and garlic. Continue cooking until their aromas open up, about 30 seconds.
- Blend in the tomato paste until there are no lumps, then add the vermouth and tomatoes. Boil for 2 minutes. Pour in the broth and water, stir and adjust heat to a light bubble. Cover completely. Cook 20 minutes. Then stir in the cinnamon. and taste the soup for seasoning. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for a bit. Transfer to a blender and puree in batches. Return the soup to the pot and warm through. Ladle into bowls and top with the goat cheese crumbles.