Charlotte Kandel’s Hearty Tomato Soup

The Scarlet Stockings Trilogy: Book One, The Enchanted Riddle
by Charlotte Kandel (Dutton Children’s Books, 2008), 384 pages,
Grades 2 and up

Extraordinary magic, mystery and adventure combine, as a thirteen-year-old aspiring dancer searches to find self-confidence, trust in herself and others, and the glamour and adventure she craves.

A dancer must eat nourishing, healthy meals. As must Daphne Green, the thirteen- year-old heroine of the magical adventure trilogy, THE SCARLET STOCKINGS. Abandoned at birth at an all-girls’ school, Daphne has always longed to discover the truth about her past and to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a prima ballerina. When magic enters her life this dream may be within her grasp. But will the magic be enough to help her overcome her childhood demons of loneliness and insecurity?

One of the best things about soup is that it can be made ahead. For a dancer, it’s full of fresh vegetable goodness to refresh tired muscles.  All you have to do is heat it up when you get home from the theater.  And, like the magical Scarlet Stockings, TOMATO soup refreshes your spirits, too, with a jolt of energizing RED.   (Just the thing if, like me, you grew up in rainy London!)

Adapted from Barbara Kafka’s Soup: a Way of Life (Artisan, 1998)

4 small carrots, peeled and cut across into 2-inch pieces
2 small onions, quartered
3/4 pound fennel bulbs, trimmed, peeled, and cut into quarters and cored (substitute an equivalent amount of trimmed leeks)
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (17 ounces) lightly crushed canned tomatoes (not plum) with their juice
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups chicken broth
5 teaspoons kosher salt, or less, if using commercial broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh basil leaves, cut across into narrow strips

1.  In a food processor, coarsely chop the carrots, onions, fennel (or leeks), and garlic.  Scrape into a medium saucepan.  Stir in the oil.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, in the food processor, puree the tomatoes.

2. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in a small amount of the stock.   Whisk into the remainder of the stock.

3.  Whisk the tomatoes and stock into the vegetables.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. The soup can be cooled and refrigerated at this point. (Then when you come offstage and go home, all you have to do is to heat it up!)  Season with the salt, lemon juice and basil before serving.

Yield: Approximately 8 cups

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