You know, I love scarves. And coats. And gloves with bows on them. And I like it when your breath fogs in the cold, and you can pretend you're a smoker (you may also like to pretend you work with Donald Draper). I love frost that lasts until midday, air that tastes like snow, and the fog on Lake Burley Griffin.
I like winter. But you know what? I am tired of being freezing cold all the time. If you live in Canberra you're probably going to work while the temperature is below zero. That's just not right. I don't think the work day should begin until the temperature's back in the pluses. Just a suggestion, Stanhope.
But I write (sitting on top of the heater in my lounge room) with an idea: eat soup all the time. I admit it's nothing revolutionary. People have been fighting winter with soup since the dawn of time. Or at least the dawn of soup. But if you're yet to break out the soup pot, here's a recipe to get you started. It's adapted from the wonderful cook book Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special. The Moosewood Restaurant is a New York State based collective, with an emphasis on organic, vegetarian, wholesome food. Read more about them here. This soup reminds me of the best of winter: home, hearth and heart.
Tomato, Barley and Spinach Soup
The original recipe calls for kale and sun-dried tomatoes not packed in oil. I couldn't find either, so I used spinach and roasted some fresh tomatoes. It turned out rather lovely.
What You Will Need
1/3 cup pearl barley
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
7 large fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 red onion, diced
2 400ml tins of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 generous pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups of fresh, washed spinach or kale
What you will need to do
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C.
Halve the fresh tomatoes, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a lightly oiled baking tray, and then put into the oven. Roast for 30 minutes minimum (there really isn't a maximum when it comes to roasting tomatoes).
Combine water, bay leaves and barley in a soup pot (non-reactive is best) and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
In a separate pan, fry onion and garlic until soft and translucent, 10 - 15 minutes.
When the barley is cooked remove the bay leaves and add cooked onion and garlic, tinned tomatoes, rosemary, and cayenne.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven, and slip the skins off. Discard the skins. Roughly chop or break up the tomatoes, and add to the soup.
Simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until soup is the desired thickness.
Add the spinach or kale, and stir through until wilted.
Serve with some bread, some wine, some friends, and a finger raised to the heavens.