I figure anything that makes people happy and gives me more leeway for cooking at my own pace is a good idea.
For instance, handing friends mugs of hot soup as they come in the door is a great welcome, and it will tide them over if the rest of the food needs to take its time. Besides, what's not to love about a tomato soup spiked with orange zest, spices, sweet onions, and garlic? Simmer it with vegetable broth instead of chicken and everyone, no matter what their eating proclivities, will enjoy it.
Cook to Cook: Save tears and time: Use a food processor for the onion slicing.
1. In a 6-quart heavy pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper, orange zest and garlic. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and starting to color. Lower the heat if necessary to keep the onions from burning.
2. Stir in the cumin, basil, marjoram, and pepper flakes and cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes, still over medium-low heat.
3. Add the tomatoes, their liquid and the broth. Bring to gentle bubble, cover, and cook 20 minutes. Cool the soup a bit, pull out the orange peel and puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Thin it with more water or stock if necessary.
4. Make the yogurt cream by folding together the yogurt, garlic, scallions and basil. Refrigerate, covered, until just before serving.
5. To serve, heat the soup to bubbling, and then ladle it into mugs. Top each serving with a tablespoon or two of the yogurt cream.
Tomato Three-Bean Braise: In a 4-quart pot, brown a chopped onion in olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in 3 to 4 cups of leftover Tomato Soup, and boil 3 minutes. Blend three 14-ounce cans of beans -- black beans, chickpeas and pintos -- that you've rinsed and drained. (If you have tart greens like escarole or kale, add some chopped leaves.) Simmer 15 minutes, partially covered.
Top each serving with sliced avocado, a little sour cream and a generous squeeze of lime. A salad and hunks of rugged bread for cleaning the bottom of the bowl round out the meal.
This recipe appears in Eating In with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Issue 1, which is available as an e-book.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.