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It's the middle of January, and it's cold. But we can always count on soup to warm us up and soothe our soul. There's nothing more comforting than a bowl of soup steaming with flavor.

Opening a can of Campbell's tomato soup does it for me. But adding the recommended canful of milk or water doesn't. I've always added a handful of shredded cheese and maybe some garlicky croutons to the top for a little crunch.

But a recipe from delish.com knocks cream of tomato soup out of the ball park. It's loaded with taste, color and texture — tender tortellini, healthy spinach and diced tomatoes all swimming in a thick creamy base of chicken stock and heavy cream. This recipe makes a meal on its own — no need for that incredible grilled cheese sandwich you may have had with traditional tomato soup, though I wouldn't deny myself a grilled cheese if someone served me a bowl of this soup along with it. There's just something about a bowl of soup and sandwich that brings back memories of Sunday night suppers with my mom and dad.

 

Creamy Parm Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons tomato paste

3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

4 cups store-bought cheese tortellini

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

3 cups spinach, packed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil, for garnish

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, and cook until soft and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and flour, whisk to combine and cook 1 minute more.

Add tomato paste, and cook until darkened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, add tortellini and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the cream and parmesan, and stir to combine, then add spinach and let wilt. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with basil and serve.

 

GIFT CARD DAY

According to a survey conducted in November by the National Retail Federation, Americans were expected to spend $27.5 billion on gift cards during the holiday season. But $1 billion in gift cards typically goes unspent each year, often forgotten in wallets, purses or desk drawers. We've all been there, right?

Now a day has been set aside as a reminder to redeem gift cards — National Use Your Gift Card Day, begun in 2020 and set on the third Saturday in January.

The day doubles as a reminder to consumers to redeem gift cards as well as a designated shopping holiday for merchants, like Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

Several popular brands have signed on to participate, including Applebee's, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba's, Chipotle and Outback Steakhouse. Merchants include AMC Theatres, Bass Pro Shops, Chico's, PetSmart, Rue21, Topgolf and White House Black Market. They need as much business as we can give them in these trying times.

You can find out more, including how to donate a card to someone in need, at https://useyourgiftcard.com/.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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Anne Braly
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