It is, of course, the Monday after Christmas: a time for staring, unseeing, at toppling towers of Tupperware in the fridge and mindlessly picking up orphaned bows and crumples of wrapping paper. Scales are creaking and wind-driven snow is attempting to stalk unsuspecting householders by finding every chink around the windows.
Indulgence has reached its limit, and now we hunker down, and wait -
Wait for flights to start pouring forth from New York City's airports again.
Wait for New Year's to trip up every date we write for a month.
Wait for the celebration of Epiphany.
Wait for the tea to steep.
After dutifully plowing through my share of tasty Christmas dinner leftovers yesterday, I was not in a mind frame to inundate my tummy with any more carbolicious mashed potatoes.
After I put sweet baby boy down for his nap, I went to the pantry.
Today is a day For Soup. Not a drawn-out, labor-intensive cooking day, though. I reached for the Campbell's classic tomato. Nor is it a day for skipping savories by microwaving.
I mixed Campbell's tomato with a can of low-fat milk. I looked around. I sprayed a small skillet with olive oil and fetched the whole-wheat bagel thins and cheddar slices.
I looked at the tomato soup and remembered the sprigs of fresh herbs from the grocery store that I got for a dollar-fifty and shucked two stems of thyme into the pot, looked again, and ground some black pepper in, too. My grilled cheese looked a little rich for just a couple days after Christmas, so I sprinkled some dill on it to lighten it up a bit. I looked at the soup again. Savory, but lonely. Luckily, sweet husband had put a simple treat in my stocking: an avocado. (Nana: "I don' b'lieve I ever heard of someone getting an avocada for Chris'mis.") Avocado peeled, large chunks slid into the thyme and tomato. Now we were getting somewhere. I let it simmer for a few minutes to warm up the avocado and provoke the thyme into action. But the grilled cheddar with dill on the bagel thins was done, so I spooned the soup into a bowl and slid the sandwich beside it. A dollop of Philadelphia reduced fat cheese (neufchatel) on the soup later, and I had thymed avocado tomato soup.
"What're you doin' with that avacada?" Nana wanted to know. She gets tickled at my kitchen adventures.
"I put it in the tomato soup."
She snorted and giggled and wanted to know if that was something I'd done before.
"Nope! It's an experiment."
It turns out it was the best tomato soup experiment in the history of the world, because a two dollar avocado and and a dollar-fifty stem of fresh herbs woke up sleepy tomato soup that crept up unawares the Monday after Christmas. I will make it again.
And again and again. Wooden spoons, unite!
Thymed Avocado Tomato Soup
(note: use low-fat milk and neufchatel [reduced fat cream cheese] to keep this waistline-friendly. Also, avocados contain a lot of fat - but it's the 'good' kind.)
Serves 1 large soup bowl, 2 small soup bowls, or 4 cups.
Mix 1 can of Campbell's basic tomato soup with 1 can of low-fat milk in a pot over med/low heat. Stir occasionally.
"Shuck" fresh thyme leaves of 2 stems into soup, and stir (hold end of stem in one hand while running thumb and forefinger over the length of the stem). Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Simmer.
Peel ripe (soft, but firm) avocado, cut into large chunks, add to soup. Stir.
Simmer on low no longer than 5 minutes after avocado is added.
Add 1 Tablespoon of cream cheese or reduced fat cream cheese (neufchatel) if desired, and serve.
Voila! A perfect winter treat on cold days after unreserved Christmas gluttony.
It's possible other people have done this exact thing, or that Giada or Paula or one of the other Food Network mavens have made this a million times, but I'm unaware, if so. So no copycat-ing intended.