Back in 2008, I made a list of items that would make life more pleasant for single people. In light of yesterday’s monologue about The Trouble with Normal, I wanted to share it with you today. If I were on the committee of People Who Run the World, I’d demand the following on behalf of all the singletons out there, especially the ones who cook dinner for themselves:
* Marinara sauce would be sold in 8-ounce jars, not just 20+-ounce jars. Or it could come in single-serving cups, like applesauce! The cups would be easily recyclable, of course.
* Crushed tomatoes would come in 14-ounce and 28-ounce cans. 14 ounces is a much more reasonable volume of tomatoes for the small-batch cooking that we single people favor.
* We’d have our own holiday, just as couples have Valentine’s Day. And we would demand lots of chocolate to celebrate this holiday.
* You’d get a prize if you waited until age 30 to get married.
* Workplace PDAs would be banned. Period.
Now that I’m two years older, I might be willing to consider a milder version of that last one. Perhaps a time limit on PDAs at work? 30 seconds, max?
But I’m happy to report that at least one of my wishes has been granted. Behold, the crushed tomatoes!
Here’s the best part.
Now, those of you who have been following along at home for a while may quibble with my claiming singleton status. The IRS and the federal government will not because there is no marriage license with my name on it. But with Matt still hanging around in my life, I don’t feel as single as I once did. I feel…happy. Properly loved and romanced and then loved some more. That’s all I ever really wanted. But most nights, when I step up to the stove, I’m still cooking for one, and dammit, I want my 14 ounces of crushed tomatoes! And I still think that single-serving packages of marinara sauce would be pretty groovy.
There are plenty of days and nights when I’m grateful to have someone to love and a lot of autonomy. For example, Matt recently told me that he hates carrots. He hates carrots! What am I supposed to do with that? I love carrots. They’re crunchy and colorful, sweet and healthy. They go well with tahini sauce or peanut butter, and when my lunch is a little skimpy on vegetables, they step in to save the day. They’re my favorite part of a soup or a stew, and when freshly juiced, carrots are incredibly refreshing. I need carrots like I need oxygen or sunlight.
To be fair, I should probably tell you that Matt will eat a leeeetle bit of carrot in a salad. Two weeks ago, he even picked one out at the farmers’ market to add to our lunch salad. “For sweetness,” he told me. The man makes a killer salad, so I’m happy to oblige whatever notions he’s got about vegetables. But I did think we looked a bit silly, trying to buy a single carrot from a farmstand.
If we’d been planning to make the recipe I have for you today, we wouldn’t have looked quite as silly. This soup is a delicious riff on a recipe from the archives. The old recipe is a chickpea stew made sweet with handfuls of carrots and raisins, then spooned over rice and dolloped with yogurt for a sour punch. I like it a lot. The new recipe is a brothier version, a carrot and onion soup swirled with crushed tomatoes. The chickpeas are still there, but to me they seem more like a supporting actor, hanging out in the background while the carrots and tomatoes deliver their lines. I also tinkered with the spices a bit, halving the amounts of cinnamon and tumeric. I always found the cinnamon a tiny bit too strong in the original recipe anyway, so I’m happy to reduce it here.
The result is a fragrant, richly seasoned soup that plays the sweetness of carrots against spice and acid. I had it for dinner tonight, and I’m already looking forward to leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. But since it’s just me cooking for me, you’ll have to take my word for it that you should add this one to your soup rotation. Just be sure that everyone at your table likes carrots, or you’ll waste a perfectly good cup of crushed tomatoes.
Moroccan Carrot and Tomato Soup
Adapted from this recipe
Serves 3-4 as a main course
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground tumeric
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 14.5-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 medium to large carrots, ends trimmed, peeled, and sliced into thin rounds
1 cup crushed tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste
1) In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes or until it has softened and has a bit of color. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds or so. Add the spices and sauté, stirring frequently, for another 30 seconds until fragrant and toasty.
2) Stir in the chickpeas, carrots, crushed tomatoes, and vegetable stock or water. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots have softened to tenderness. Stir occasionally while the stew is simmering.
3) Taste and season with salt and/or pepper. Serve in deep bowls to all the carrot-lovers in your life.
I love the polka-dots! Can you guess who gave this bowl to me?