“Rise up this mornin’,
smiled with the rising sun,
three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep,
Singing sweet songs,
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, This is my message to you-ou-ou”
Every time I hear Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, I can’t help but smile, even if I’m in a foul mood. “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing’s gonna be alright…” As I listen to the reggae beat, I think “Yeah, Bob… It is, isn’t it?”
I swear by the happiness-inducing powers of Splendid Table podcasts, pilates classes, and just-mailed Bon Appetit magazines. If I need a dose of slightly off-color dinner table humor, my goofy brother Greg is always good for a laugh.
We all need an assortment of pick-me-up-stop-moping-around activities.
One lousy day last week, I didn’t smile with the rising sun. My birds evidently weren’t the ones Bob Marley sang about. They were grumpy birds; feel sorry for yourself birds. In Alexander’s words, I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
So, first I moped. Then, my stomach started to growl. I thought back to one of my favorite childhood feel-better foods, tomato soup. Tomato soup reminds me of being a kid, reading Matilda at the dinner table while dipping the corner of a grilled cheese sandwich into my bowl. It’s relatively impossible to feel down for long when your belly is filled to the brim with gooey cheese and hot soup.
Of course, my tastes have advanced from the old standby soup from a can. So…
I pull the last batch of tomatoes from the vines, and start chopping. My mood moves from foul to semi-tolerable. After chopping an exorbitant amount of garlic, I can’t help but feel optimistic. A few glugs of olive oil and the sound of sizzling onion elevate my mood status even further. Upon breaking out the immersion blender and whizzing together my sauteed onions, garlic, and fresh herbs, I daresay I felt pleasant.
I dip a corner of seeded whole grain bread into my soup. You’re right, my Rastafarian friend. Every little thing is going to be alright after all.
- 2 pounds ripe, in-season tomatoes, chopped (about 5 cups)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh thyme (about 6 sprigs), leaves picked and chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh oregano, leaves picked and finely chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- Kosher salt to taste
- Basil leaves to garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and saute for about 6 minutes until soft. Add the thyme, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Saute for an additional minute.
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Saute, stirring often for about 10 minutes, allowing some of the moisture to cook down.
- Add 2 cups of the broth. Simmer for 10 minutes. Blend together with an immersion blender, or allow soup to cool slightly before blending in a standing blender.* Add additional broth if needed to reach the desired consistency. Garnish with torn basil.
•Only fill the container up halfway, and start at the lowest speed.
•Place a kitchen towel over top of the lid, and hold it down while you are blending