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Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches are a good match any time, but the Fall may be the best time, because you can pair the soup and sandwich with apple cider, and still sit outside and eat.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a fine Fall afternoon.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a fine Fall afternoon.

The grilled cheese part is easy (though: 1. use great bread; 2. get great cheese; 3. use evoo instead of butter; 4. put a heavy cast-iron pan on your sandwiches as they’re cooking (with a sheet of wax paper between your sandwich and the bottom of the heavy pan)).

The tomato soup is a little (just a little) more tricky.

The default is some canned atrocity:

Campbell's Tomato Soup ingredients.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup ingredients.

Certainly, there are alternatives to Campbell’s, but even those tend to have ingredients like milk and cane sugar.

There’s really no need for this. It takes roughly 30 minutes to make it from scratch, and it’s just so much better. Particularly, now, when the tomatoes are abundant (and almost gone).

Here’s how:

Tomato Soup Recipe

Make the armomatics
1. Fill the largest pot you have with water, and put it over high heat with a lid.
2. Roughly chop:
a. 2-3 large carrots (peeled)
b. one medium onion
c. one red bell pepper (stemmed and seeded)
d. 2 cloves of garlic (mince these)
3. Add the above to a sautée pan that has been heated (over medium heat) with 1T of evoo in the order you chopped it; waiting a minute or two between each addition. Stir every now and then. Add 2t of kosher salt.

Peel the tomatoes
4. Fill a big bowl with ice and water.
5. Using a sharp knife (the goal is to just pierce the skin – don’t push the knife in too far)Make X marks in the bottom of 4 or 5 softball size tomatoes,
6. By the time the water is boiling – 10-15 minutes – the vegetables should be softened, but not limp. Take them off the heat.
7. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water. Watch them closely; in about a minute you should see the skin starting to blister a bit around the X marks you made. Take them out of the boiling water, and drop them into the ice water.
8. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel back the skin under running water (it should slide right off).

Combine the aromatics with the peeled/seeded tomatoes
9. Dump the water from the pot you had the boiling water in and put it back on the stove over medium heat with a few T of evoo.
10. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out as many of the seeds as you can under running water; breaking them up with your hands and pulling out the stems. Drop the tomato pieces into the pot with the now hot evoo.
11. Pour the vegetable mixture from the sautée pan into the pot with the tomatoes. Stir and bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a simmer.
12. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Blend the soup
13. A Vitamix is best – do it in two batches – using the highest setting for a minute or so (make sure to leave the air hole on the blender lid open so the heat can escape). An immersion blender or non-Vitamix blender will work too, but make sure you REALLY blend it.
14. Wipe the pot clean of any residual chunks, and pour the now smooth soup back in. Heat and adjust the seasonings.

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Yet another day where the world offers more questions than answers. As the Boston authorities hunt for the missing bomber, we all hunt for meaning and reason.

Typically, my hunt involves writing; working through thoughts. That’s what this blog is for.

However, since Monday, I’ve not been able to do so.

I thought, therefore, “since I can’t write, I’ll read.” I went back and looked at some of the writing on this blog that occuoccured during other difficult times.

I’ve compiled some here, with links back to the original posts.



therefore we must be saved by hope

I was fortunate to hear Roger Brown, Berklee President, speak last week. He referenced the following quote by Reinhold Niebuhr:

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.

Nothing true or beautiful makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.

These are both exciting and stressful times for many people. Share your excitement; comfort those who are stressed.


What makes our hearts sing

“Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that makes our hearts sing.” — Steve Jobs


bitterness occurs when you don’t have options

“If I were to wish for anything [it would be] for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.” – Soren Kierkegaard [*]

I learn so much from my students. I’m currently teaching a wonderful group of seniors, and they’re naturally contemplating their next steps after graduation.

Recently, I was imploring them to develop their entrepreneurial pursuits even while they might be forced to take a less-than-ideal job immediately after graduation.

I told them that by developing their meaningful work while they were doing work simply to pay their bills (“The Sex and Cash Theory” so perfectly articulated by Hugh MacLeod) they would be able to more easily suffer the indignities which tend to be an axiomatic part of jobs done just for the cash.

I also told them that by making sure not to forget their purpose-driven ventures amidst their just-for-the-money jobs, they would be creating options for themselves.

As I said this, I looked at their faces and saw such possibility emanating from each of them, and I saw something else too. I paused for a moment and said something along the lines of: “Bitterness occurs when you don’t have options.”

This possibility — the virtually unlimited options awaiting these student, and their belief in that possibility, even if only for that moment — crowded out any hint of bitterness/cynicism from their faces (if it had been there at all).

I’ve reflected on this quite a bit recently, and I believe it now more than ever: It’s options — a feeling of possibility, of not being trapped — that allow us to escape the evilness that is bitterness.

I don’t think I know any bitter entrepreneurs. Certainly, I know some crazy-ass, maladjusted entrepreneurs, but they tend not to be bitter. It’s because they know they always have options.

Think about the most bitter person you know, and check to see if he/she is also one of the people you know who – for whatever reason – is sort trapped…without options.

Don’t let this happen to you.


[*] You want to know why you blog? It’s because when you do, if you’re lucky, you get amazing feedback from people who read what you write; such as this quote from my friend John P. Strohm. Thanks, John.


Devils win battles, but lose wars

It’s important to remember this when it feels like: chaos has overtaken reason; ignorance has overtaken enlightenment; ego has overtaken charity; making noise has overtaken making meaning.

Devils win battles, but lose wars.

Resist the pull to become a turncoat; it won’t end well.

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