I really wish I had thought of photographing the wonderful meals I had on vacation. The beach was a fantastic way to decompress after a really stressful summer semester at Loyola taking classes part time after work to get my teacher's certification. However, I missed cooking for real. Making meals that just "wowed". And so, when my husband mentioned that he wanted to take lunch into work, I took it to mean I should COOK.
I also had approximately six pounds of tomatoes waiting for me after a week of being away from my garden.
Two soups resulted, the first and most amazing was from America's Test Kitchen, a beef and vegetable soup.
If you have ever watched this show, you know that they try all sorts of ideas to make a great dish even better. To make this soup, they concentrated on the idea of umami, that extra aspect of taste. You can think of it as that something extra your beef lo mein has that you can't place. Umami is found in mushrooms, soy sauce and red wine as well as in other foods. All three are in this meal. The meat is soaked in soy sauce before cooking. The next new idea was to add a small amount of unflavored gelatin to thicken the soup without decreasing or changing the taste.
The end result was a visual feast for the eyes, soup that was like the soup you see advertised on TV, and soup that smells better than it should and tastes even more amazing.
The tomato soup was much simpler, with the twists being a rounded tablespoon of pesto to add a kick, and some last minute chicken broth to stretch it out.
So all my work gave me much bounty in the form of perfect lunches. Two soups that are the reality that canned wishes it could be and most of America has forgotten. Luckily, I have plenty of plastic ware and a new knowledge that will replace yet another supermarket staple.