Sopa de Conchas con carne (Conchitas)

What a beautiful day it was outside today! I mean, perfect weather after yesterday’s gloomy downer. Don’t get me wrong, I am all in on a gloomy day–if there is rain. One of my favorite things to do is sit on my back porch with a good book on a rainy day. But NOT today! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, there is a breeze to cool us down….it was amazing.

Today’s recipe comes from a childhood favorite of mine, Conchitas. Mmmm, I love a great soup that hits every part of my soul! I remember having it when I was younger and loved it. I have tried to find it at restaurants here in San Antonio, but haven’t had much luck. No worries, I decided to make my own and it certainly brought me right back to our old kitchen table, surrounded by family. The only thing I was missing was a good homemade tortilla to dunk in this brothy goodness.

I hope this recipe finds its way to your table and is enjoyed by your loved ones they way I always loved it.

Happy eating!

Ingredients

2 tomatoes, cut in half

1 green bell pepper, de-seeded

1/2 onion

3 garlic cloves

1 cup of water

1 lb ground beef

1 tbs oil

8 oz small shell pasta

4 cups chicken stock 1

8 oz can of tomato sauce

1 tbs cumin

1 tsp salt, more to taste

1/2 cup cilantro, with stems

Instructions

In a blender, combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and water. Puree until smooth and set aside.

In a pot, brown you beef until fully cooked. After, drain your meat and set aside. Leave about a tablespoon of rendered fat in your pot.

Add the oil to the pot along with your shells to toast. Be careful to watch and consistently stir to ensure they do not burn.

Pour in your chicken stock, puree, tomato sauce, cumin, salt and cilantro and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the beef back to the pot. Cook for 15-20 minutes, checking periodically if the shells are al dente.

Top with fresh cilantro.


Roasted Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Whew! What a weekend! I was lucky enough to spend my Saturday in Fredericksburg, Texas with my Mother and Sister in law. What a nice day of shopping, sipping, and enjoying some awesome company!

I woke up Sunday relaxed and ready to take on some cooking in the kitchen. I started my day off with this delicious roasted tomato basil soup.

To add a touch of smokiness and extra sweetness, I added a red bell pepper to the mix and it made for a tasty experience. I like to let my tomatoes roast until they start to flatten out and release their juices. This will help bring home the tomato flavor and add the much needed sweetness since we are not adding sugar of any kind.

The crunch of the croutons adds the needed texture while getting the pop of salt from the cheese.

I specifically asked Troy if he would not take this to work for fear that I wouldn’t see it again this week! This is a must try recipe!

Enjoy and Happy Eating!

Ingredients

10 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 red bell pepper, de-seeded

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

1 head of garlic

1 onion, diced

2 tbs tomato paste

1/2 cup basil

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

For the Croutons

3 slices of bread, cut into crouton sized squares

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 tbs Italian seasoning

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400. Place tomatoes and red bell pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper onto them.

Cut the top off of the garlic, exposing the tops of the cloves. On a small sheet of foil, place cut garlic and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Close the foil around the garlic completely. This will roast in the oven along with the tomatoes and red bell pepper.

Place baking sheet on bottom rack of the oven and roast for 40 minutes. Remove the bell pepper and garlic bundle. Continue roasting the tomatoes for 20 more minutes.

While the tomatoes are roasting, saute onion in a skillet with olive oil until soft. When the onions become soft, add the tomato paste and saute for 3-4 more minutes.

Once the tomatoes are out of the oven, combine 4 roasted garlic cloves, tomatoes, red bell peppers, and the onion and tomato paste mixture into a high speed blender. Pour into a pot, add the parmesan, and simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.

Blend until you reach your desired consistency. Add the basil and pulse 5 more times.

Salt and pepper to taste.

For the Croutons:

Toss the cut bread with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and place on the top rack under broiler. Keep a close eye on them! They can burn quickly. Remove once they are crispy and toss with cheese, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Place back under broiler and broil for 1-2 minutes longer.

To plate: Spoon soup into bowl and top with cheese croutons, basil, and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.