Only a foodie could truly understand the heartbreak I felt as I unpacked my Fedex boxes on Tuesday morning. After four weeks of having been in transit, they showed signs of what my mom called "World War III" on the outside, displaying holes in the cartons, which were so dirty it looked as if they had been dropped out of the plane as it landed, and then rolled around in the dirt and dust some more.
I cried in dismay as I pulled out the shards of the broken ceramic that had gone through warfare either on the planes or in the warehouses, searching for a survivor. There was none. The cherry red Emile Henry pie dish my sister had lovingly given me for my Bachelor's graduation was in pieces, along with the Le Creuset ramekins (basically indestructible!) that she and her family had bestowed upon me last Christmas, and the countless beautifully-designed Ting Denmark plates that you can only find in Costa Rica- all smashed to smithereens.
The shards of broken pottery had scratched my prized Cuisinart pans, the ones I carefully scrubbed after each using. Some pans were bent, others bruised. The packaging, which my mom and grandma had worked on for days to protect my beloved goods, was a mess. Bubble wrap was not where it was supposed to be; papers and plastic were strewn among the damage. It was a sad sight.
Then I unpacked my KitchenAid stand mixer. I was already having a fit, so when I went to turn it on, realizing that the pulleys on either side that you use to adjust the speed and lock the head, were not working, I screamed. They had been bent downward and would not move from their place until my dad took pliers to them.
The plates, pie dish, pans, ramekins and mixer are not just things to me; they symbolize my happy place, my kitchen, my passion. They have been gifts, memories, and irreplaceable expensive kitchenware. A big company like Fedex might not care about their customers, but this was beyond the normal wear and tear that I expected from shipping my belongings internationally. This was just plain disrespect, incompetence, and lack of caring. I had paid a high price, both literally and figuratively, to entrust my prized posessions with these people. I had selected my most special items to take back to the states, and sold the rest. I know I'll be able to buy more beautiful things at another time, but I will never forget how poorly my belongings and myself were treated- Fedex NO MORE.
Meanwhile, I've had to get to know another kitchen: my parents'. It's like using someone else's car, but I believe that if you are able to do so, it makes you a better cook. This delicious soup is best now, at the height of tomato season. Use fresh, local tomatoes (from your garden, if you have one!), and organic ingredients. Also, I'm coming up with a theory that if you make fresh vegetable soups, the veggies really shine most when you use water, not broth. If you are feeling adventurous, try this soup made with water.
Roasted tomato soup
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
Makes about 3 servings
1 ¼ lb ripe tomatoes (about 4 large), cut into wedges and seeds roughly removed
½ onion, cut into wedges
3 garlic cloves
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups organic vegetable broth, low sodium if possible
1 TBSP organic tomato paste
¼ cup half-and-half (or heavy cream if you wish)
Fresh chopped parsley and/or basil for garnish
Slices of your favorite crusty loaf of bread, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350F with the rack in the middle. Spread the tomato and onion wedges on a rimmed baking sheet (I find covering it with parchment or foil helps with the cleanup!). Drizzle them with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt, add a lot of pepper, and toss gently. Tuck the garlic cloves into tomato wedges so that they don't burn. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and are reduced to about half their original size. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
Just before the tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven, warm the broth and stir in the tomato paste until it dissolves completely. Add all of the ingredients from the roasting pan, including the juices and oil left behind. Let the soup gently simmer 5-10 minutes, then purée with a blender, immersion blender, or food processor. Blend until just smooth, but not so much that the soup loses texture. Return the soup back to the saucepan and add the half-and-half or cream. Adjust seasoning.
Serve with parsley and/or basil, along with the crusty bread.