Saturday Afternoon Tomato-Onion Soup

Here’s a great tomato-onion soup dish I made this afternoon after having a wonderful similar soup last week at Biba’s Ristorante in Sacramento! This takes some time but doesn’t require constant attention – ideal for a lazy afternoon where you might be reading or working on other things as well!

Try serving it with a piece or two of cheese toast! And, like great pot roast, this soup is even better warmed up the next day! It’s truly a treat and much more fun and tasty than just onion soup.


  • 5 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – 28 oz (I prefer Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 qt vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper to taste


  1. In large pot heat olive oil and add onions. Medium heat.
  2. After 10 minutes stir, turn heat to low and cover for 20 minutes. Onions should be beginning to carmelize.
  3. Uncover and sir periodically. About 40-45 minutes total.
  4. 4, Add diced tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes before serving.

First posted: January 18, 2020

Scott’s Wintertime Beef, Mushroom and Barley Soup

A favorite of mine this time of year is a hearty beef, mushroom and barley soup.

Some might call it a “beef stew” – and they’d be right. But it’s got a lot of liquid – assuming you use all of the liquids called for – yet has the great flavor of a beef stew. We made this for a second time today – using an amalgamation of one of Mark Bittman’s recipes along with a slow cooker recipe from Cooks Illustrated.


  • 1 oz dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 1.5 – 2 lbs beef chuck roast – cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 8 oz fresh Cremini mushrooms
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz mini carrots
  • 3 yellow onions – chopped
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 8 oz mini carrots
  • 2 oz Penzey’s shallots
  • 2 oz Penzey’s garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups chicken broth


  • Soak the dried Porcini mushrooms in a cup of hot water.
  • In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and add the beef – brown for 10-15 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon. Discard most of the fat remaining.
  • In a separate pan, brown the mushrooms – first dry and later adding a bit of olive oil.
  • In the Dutch oven, add the onions, salt and pepper. Add in the tomato paste, carrots, shallots, and garlic. Add in the mushrooms. Add in the porcini mushrooms – and the liquid while being careful to avoid any grit. Saute for 10 mins. Add the red wine. After 10 mins, add the tomatoes, beef broth and chicken broth.
  • Bring mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low – cover the Dutch oven and continue cooking for 1.5-2 hours. Taste the beef for tenderness to determine when ready to serve.Serve in large soup bowls – perhaps with crusty bread! Enjoy!

A Richer, Creamier Twist on Roasted Tomato Soup

Soup's On! - Roasting TomatoesWe tried a modified version of our Harvest Time Roasted Tomato and Sweet Corn Soup recipe tonight – suggested by our friends at Bogle Vineyards and a recipe they sent out in their latest newsletter. Truth be told – we’re suckers for roasted tomato soup!

Essentially it’s the same as our original recipe – except after doing the puree at the end, we added about 8 oz of Trader Joe’s Super Sweet Frozen Corn kernels in lieu of any fresh corn (no longer available) along with 4 oz of crumbled TJ’s Blue Cheese and about 6 oz of Niman Ranch Uncured Maple Bacon chopped into bacon bits. Add a dollop of Creme Fraiche into each bowl after serving – and you’re good to go! Yum!

Harvest Time Roasted Tomato and Sweet Corn Soup

At lunch out yesterday at Mike’s Cafe in Portola Valley, the special soup was roasted tomato and corn – and it was really lovely. While it’s not exactly a soup day here today (temps heading into the 90’s), it’s the perfect time for both tomatoes and sweet corn so I decided to give this a whirl. It turns out magnificently – if I do say so myself! Total time to prepare – about an hour and 15 minutes.

Sunday’s are Farmers Market day in Menlo Park so I headed out first thing to pick up the ingredients – basically 3 pounds of tomatoes (mostly San Marizano’s but some yellow plum and others mixed in) and 3 ears of fresh sweet corn. I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pickup a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes – we had everything else at home. The core recipe was inspired by one of the Barefoot Contessa’s.

Read on for ingredients and directions!


  • 3 lbs mostly plum (San Marizano, Yellow Plum) tomatoes
  • 3 ears sweet corn
  • 28 oz canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 qt organic chicken broth
  • 2 yellow onions – peeled and chopped
  • 3 tsp minced garlic (from jar)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


  • Preheat over to 400 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half, mix in large bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper Spread the tomatoes onto a baking sheet – bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Using an 8-quart pot, saute the onions and garlic over medium heat with 2 Tbsp olive oil and the butter. Add the red pepper flakes. Stir, cooking about 10 minutes.
  • Add the canned tomatoes and the chicken stock. Add the roasted tomatoes and any liquid on the baking sheet. Season with 1 Tbsp dried basis and 1 tsp dried thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
  • While the soup is simmering, microwave 3 ears of sweet corn wrapped in wax paper on high for 10 minutes. When finishing, use knive to remove corn kernels onto plate. Reserve aside.
  • When soup has finished simmering, use hand-held blender to mix to coarse consistency. Add in the sweet corn. Serve!
    [First posted: September 26, 2010]



It’s a Soup Day in Northern California!

We’re having a struggle this Spring weather-wise – trying to shake off the winter storms and get into the usual – boring – late spring and summer weather in northern California. Today, a blustery set of heavy rain below in – with chilly winds, etc.

Anyway, it was a great day for soup – so we dusted off one of our favorite recipes from last year – Barley Soup With Mushrooms and Microgreens – made mostly with ingredients from our local Trader Joe’s. It’s a tasty and healthy soup that goes just right with days like today.

Barley Soup With Mushrooms and Microgreens

Out of a can, a couple of my favorite soups are barley-based – either chicken or beef with barley, I’m not picky! Good flavor, good fiber – and there’s something about barley that “beefs” up a soup in terms of chunkiness and flavor.

Recently, I came across this recipe in the New York Times for Barley Soup With Mushrooms and Kale – which I made in a modified form for dinner Monday evening last week – it was delicious!

Kale wasn’t easy to find – and being a regular Trader Joe’s shopper I had noticed they carry a small box of “microgreens” – so I substituted those for the kale.

Trader Joe’s also sells a dried mushroom medley (which includes some porcini mushrooms) which I used to replace the dried porchini’s ($1.99 for the medley vs $5.99 for the pure dried porcinis!) I also had a cup of beef broth left over so it went into the soup along with a quart of chicken broth instead of just chicken broth. Otherwise, I pretty much followed the rest of the recipe.


  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Dried Mushroom Medley (0.88 oz package)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 2 tsp Trader Joes’ crushed garlic
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1 1/2 quarts organic chicken stock
  • A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme and parsley, and a bay leaf and a Parmesan rind
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Microgreens
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Place the dried mushrooms in a Pyrex measuring cup. Pour on two cups boiling water. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Strain the water and the mushrooms out of the bowl.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until just tender, about five minutes, then add the sliced cremini mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are beginning to soften, about three minutes. Add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue to cook for about five minutes, until the mixture is juicy and fragrant.
  3. Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms, the barley, the mushroom soaking liquid, and the stock or water. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
  4. Add the microgreens into the soup and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes. The barley should be tender and the broth aromatic. Remove the bouquet garni, taste and adjust salt, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and serve.

[First posted: March 22, 2009]

Scott’s Less Famous But Still Tasty Homemade Turkey Noodle Soup

It’s late on Thanksgiving weekend (back to work tomorrow – ugh!) and time to use up some of those turkey leftovers making homemade turkey noodle soup.

Unlike us, braver souls actually make turkey stock from the bird’s carcass on Thanksgiving evening (frankly, we were falling asleep after dinner and struggled to get just some of the dishes cleaned up that night!). But, if you’re looking for that real turkey noodle soup make from real homemade turkey stock, be sure to checkout Elise’s Mom’s Turkey Soup!

In our case, we took the easy way, just slightly modifying our Scott’s Famous Homemade Chicken Soup with Pasta recipe by replacing the chicken with turkey.

In our just made Sunday afternoon version, we also tossed in some left over green beans and sauteed some special cremini mushrooms that we also had left over from the Thanksgiving feast. They all went into the pot.

We also used rotini pasta again – rotini is turning into our favorite pasta in soup for its ability to fit easily into a soup spoon when eating! So much easier to eat than real noodles!

So, that’s it. Our “less famous”, easy homemade turkey noodle soup. Still delicious – and very helpful in cleaning out some of the refrigerated leftovers from Thanksgiving!

Scott’s Famous Homemade Chicken Soup with Pasta

chickensoup.jpgThis year, as the cool fall weather has moved in and the daylight is fading faster, we’ve been experimenting with various chicken soup recipes to find one that really “hits the spot.” There is something special about chicken soup – for both health and attitude! After several tries and variations, we think this one is just about perfect – and now it’s famous!

It’s a great Saturday or Sunday late afternoon treat to make in the fall and winter months. Hope you enjoy it – let us know by posting a comment!

To make it easy, you can purchase the key ingredients from Trader Joe’s and make relatively quick work out of putting the soup together. Plan on 35-40 minutes or so to get this soup ready – with some additional time afterwards to let the soup’s temperature cool down enough for eating.


  • 1 carton of Trader Joe’s Mirapoix (14.5 oz of diced carrots, onions, celery)
  • 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s Diced Onions (5 oz of 10 oz package)
  • 10 oz package of cremini mushrooms
  • 48 oz of Trader Joe’s organic free range chicken broth (1 + 1/2 32 oz. cartons)
  • 12 oz of diced chicken breast (either prepackaged or cooked chicken tenders)
  • 8 oz cooked of your favorite small pasta (we cook a 1 lb. package of
    pasta – put half into the soup and save the other half for pasta salad, etc.)
  • 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup non-fat milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mini-saltine crackers to accompany


  1. Bring a large pot filled with water and 1 Tbsp salt to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook for recommended duration – in parallel with the steps below. Strain and set aside.
  2. In another large pot (this one ends up holding the soup!), melt 1-1/2 Tbsp butter and mix with 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the Mirapoix and the diced onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft (10-15 minutes)
  4. With the Mirapoix and diced onions are cooking, in a 10-inch fry pan, melt 1-1/2 Tbsp butter and mix with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp minced garlic.
  5. Add the mushrooms to the fry pan and sauté over medium heat for 8-10 minutes – then add mushrooms to large pot.
  6. When the Mirapoix, onions and mushrooms are done, stir in the Herbes de Provence and the flour.
  7. Add the chicken broth, diced chicken, garlic powder and onion powder. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  8. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes then reduce heat to low. Add the milk, lemon juice, and cooked pasta. Bring back up to a simmer for a final 5-10 mins.
  9. Serve in soup bowls with mini-saltine crackers. Suggestion – save your tongue: wait at least 5 minutes after serving before tasting!

Added: November 15, 2008 – Menlo Park, California

Winter All-Afternoon Onion Soup

istock_000001245149xsmallOut our way, the fall was warm and sunny this year – with the shortening days eventually delivering on cooler days and cold nights only over the last week or two.

We love to make onion soup on cool days like this – see my earlier “Scott’s Favorite French Onion Soup” recipe for one of our favorite recipes. The problem with that recipe is that it’s one of those “stand over the stove and stir” recipes – and, if you get a bit impatient and over eager with the heat, you’ll subtly char the onions and have a bitter result. It’s frustrating – you’re looking for a great soup but it just takes a bit longer than it should.

A recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated included a new “Best French Onion Soup” recipe that took a new and different approach – what I call an “all-afternoon” recipe. The workload is light at the beginning – after peeling/slicing the onions. It involves almost 3 hours of oven roasting of the onions – and then about 30 minutes of repeated deglazing at the end to finish it up. If you’re doing other things in or near the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, this recipe delivers a great result. You need to not be in a hurry, working on other things, and just enjoying the day! We’ve made this recipe a couple of times recently – here’s our adaptation.


4 lbs yellow onions, sliced
into 1/4 inch slices

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup dry Sherry

2+ cups water

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups beef broth

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp dried thyme

Kosher salt, fresh ground
pepper to taste


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a large Dutch oven, spray the inside with non-stick cooking spray. (We use a La Cruset 5 qt oval French oven and it’s worked fine – although Cook’s Illustrated recommends at least a 7 qt.)
  3. Place the butter in the Dutch oven along with all of the sliced onions and 1 tsp salt. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from oven, stir, and return to oven for 1 hour.
  5. Remove from oven, stir, and return to oven for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and place on stove over medium-high heat. Scape the sides and bottom of the pot while the onions brown further for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Add 1/4 cup water to deglaze, scrape the bottom and sides. When the water has boiled off, repeat two more times. This repeated deglazing takes 20-25 minutes total.
  8. Add the 1/2 cup dry Sherry and stir while letting it evaporate (4-5 mins).
  9. Add the 4 cups chicken broth, 2 cups beef broth, 2 cups of water, the bay leaf, and the dried thyme.
  10. Bring the heat up to high, when simmering, reduce to low, cover and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste.

(Added: December 16, 2007 – Menlo Park, California)