December 5, 2012

Love in the Time of Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Part 2

If you haven't already, read Love in the Time of Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Part 1!
Daydreaming delights my soul.
There she stood, eyes only half open, her hand outstretched. I limply deposited one earring into her open palm.

"Where's the other one?" she mumbled. I had never been more tempted to blatantly lie. I wanted to say something casual like, "Oh man, I left it in my purse," or "I only wore one tonight. It's the latest fashion." But I know my mother. In her eyes, the only sin graver than irresponsibility is insulting her intelligence. 

And in a moment of fear and weakness, I blurted everything out. She listened, stone-faced. God, I dread that look. I just call it The Look. It's her version of a comic-book villain's super-power. One stare and you crumple to the floor in agony.

When I was done, I prepared myself for the verbal assault that was about to ensue in approximately t-5 seconds. Instead, she just turned around and disappeared into her dressing room. 

Was I off the hook? Was I actually being shown mercy? I dawdled in my delusions. 

Before I knew it, she was back and she had something in her hand.

I contemplated whether it was the knife she was going to stab me with. Instead, she casually handed her weapon over to me. 

It was a flashlight.

"Go back and don't come home until you find it," she said, still poker-faced.

My fate was sealed. I headed back to my room, trying to reconcile with the fact that tomorrow morning, I would be homeless because there way no way I was going to pull this off.

Did I mention that when I said we had to go back, I had no idea where "back" was. We'd pulled over in a hurry and pulled out even faster and at that point, where we'd stopped was an irrelevant detail. Retracing our steps and trying to figure out where we were headed was a complete shot in the dark.

In the car, I cried while T tried to console me and give me hope, spurring my fantasies about recovering the rock. And as we headed back towards Thokar, we began dialing everyone who had been riding in either one of the cars that night, hoping against hope that someone could at least offer us an approximate location. At such an ungodly hour, it wasn't a shocker that no one took our calls. We decided to pick up the lone-ranger friend who had answered to our cries. We needed the moral support. And an extra pair of eyes and hands. 

At 4:30 in the morning, the Canal was dark and deserted. Tears rolled down my face as I silently prayed, harder and with more conviction than I ever had before. I was relying on  faith to keep me strong. I had to believe with all my heart that I was going to find it.

Chivalry is not dead.

As we made the u-turn from Thokar, heading towards our mystery location, my pulse began to quicken and I could feel myself breaking out into a sweat. In the dark, it all looked the same to me, like being stuck in a bad dream. "Stop!" screeched our sidekick. 

We slammed on the brakes, scrambled out of the car and onto our hands and knees. Flashlights in hand, but still blind as moles, we combed the dusty canal-side, my tears still rolling fast and steady. After 10 excruciating minutes of  looking for something we all knew we had zero chance of recovering, I heard T asking me to get back into the car.

"Just give me 2 more minutes," I begged, frantically stirring up dust and dirt. I was fighting a lost battle. I got back into the car, both my sidekick and the future husband trying to coax me into believing it would all be okay and my mom would get over it...ultimately. I totally knew better. Tomorrow, I would begin my new life as a hobo.

We stopped at a second possible location for our pit-stop from earlier that night and repeated the entire drill again: sidekick orders us to a halt, a ludicrous search effort ensues, swiftly followed by a rush of imminent failure. 

As we slowly pulled away from our second stop, I bawled like a child, T and the sidekick both speechless and helpless. What could they possibly say or do for a girl who knew her life was over? T silently reached over, taking my hand into his, giving it a firm squeeze of reassurance. 

I secretly wondered if the people at Dawlance would be generous enough to donate a refrigerator box to me. It would be my new home. A new start in a cardboard box. I tried to lose myself in thoughts of how to decorate my humble abode as T slowly pulled over.

Expecting the unexpected.

Just so you know, T might have the patience of a saint, but he has the bladder of a pregnant woman. It must be emptied every 3 to 5 minutes. While he took a tinkle, the sidekick and I earnestly discussed the events of the evening. Just as Sidekick solemnly began to lend me some much-needed sympathy, I spotted T casually heading back towards the car. 

He pulled open his door, got into the driver's seat and turned towards me. "Here," he said and plopped a diamond earring into my hand!

My jaw dropped in disbelief. "Wha, how, wha," I stuttered in shock. "Oh my God! Oh my God! OH! MY! GOD! I LOVE YOU!" I shrieked. 

"I love you too," he smile backed. "I saw it glinting in the headlights," he said, as if spotting diamonds on a dark roadside while comfortably seated in his car was a sport he routinely indulged in on the weekends.

I woke up the next morning knowing that last night had been the beginning of my happily-ever-after.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Honestly, back then I was convinced that losing that diamond was just a freak accident. But back then I was still young and naive. And Eat, Pray, Love, hadn't been written. Now, I know better. 

Now, I believe that losing that diamond wasn't just a stupid mistake. It was a twist of fate. Going on a search and rescue mission for a piece of jewelry that we had one in a trillion chance of finding?  That was a chance we were willing to take. That was free will (and some degree of delusion). T putting up with my ridiculous insistence to "go back?" Well, I don't know any other certifiably sane people who would agree to drive me "back," without knowing exactly where they had to take me, so that's got to be love. And as for us finding that earring? I know what happened that night wasn't just a miracle. That, my friends, was destiny. Plain and simple.

A little piece of his heart and little piece of mine.

He stills jokes that he had the earring hidden in his pocket the entire time and this whole thing was a crazy stunt he pulled to win my heart. I, of course, know better.

What I've realized is, you have to be fearless to have faith. You have to believe to see miracles. And you have to choose which chances to take. The rest? Well, let's just say it's fascinating, the things people do for love. And it still never ceases to amaze me that something as simple as losing a diamond can determine your destiny. 

"Destiny, I feel is a relationship-a play between grace and willful self-effort. Half of it you have no control over, half of it is absolutely in your hands and your actions will show measurable consequences. Man is neither entirely a puppet of the gods, nor is he entirely the captain of his own destiny; he’s a little of both. We gallop through our lives like circus performers balancing on two speeding side-by-side horses-one foot is on the horse called “fate” the other on the horse called “free will”. And the question you have to ask everyday is, Which horse is which? Which horse do I need to stop worrying about because it’s not under my control, and which do I need to steer with concentrated effort?"
- Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert


This week, I'm  obviously and painfully lonely. Everything outside seems cold and grey and I need a hug. Or a bowl of soup. Actually, a bowl of hot soup is a lot like a great hug. Both make you all warm and fuzzy, enveloping you in their comfort. You know what else gives me the cozies? Something warm and toasty on the side for dunking. Sort of completes a light, but heartening meal.  

These past two posts, I've spoken a lot about love and how some things just fit together perfectly. With that in mind, it only makes sense to cook, what I'm convinced is, the perfect pair; tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich.

My tomato soup is bright red; the color of love. There's no heavy cream involved in my rendition of this classic, but don't let that fool you into thinking you'll end up with a watery soup. I promise, this tomato soup is as satisfyingly rich, but a lot easier on the calorie count. Slow roasting garlic and basil infused tomatoes caramelizes the sugars bringing out the natural sweetness of the fruit, but it's balanced by the signature tang of tomatoes. 

And since it takes two to qualify as a couple, the Yin to my tomato soup's Yang is a crusty, gorgeously grilled cheese sandwich. Trust me, this is not your average "cheez-toas". These are two slices of crusty, butter-crisped bread, warmly holding melted cheddar and mozzarella in a loving embrace. 

Finally, I know there are no rules in love, but I will leave you a tip for how to devour this meal. It's very simple. Lift sandwich, dunk into tomato soup receptacle, apply to face.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup (approx. 6 servings)
Adapted from Roast Tomato Soup, by Donna Hay

  • 12 large tomatoes (approx.2kg), halved 
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups(750ml) hot water
  • 2 chicken cubes 
  • 2–3 teaspoons sugar 

- Preheat your oven at 180°C (350°F).

- Combine the minced garlic and dried basil.

- Line a large baking tray with butter paper and place the halved tomatoes on the tray. Place a small amount of the garlic-basil mixture on each tomato. Season the tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and place in the preheated oven to roast for approximately 40 minutes or until the tomatoes are very soft. 

- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and saute for 10 minutes or until soft. 

- Dissolve the chicken cubes in the hot water and add to the pot. I'm usually too busy or too lazy to make actual stock and this is a great shortcut. 

- Add the roasted tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper  to the pot and bring to a boil. Once the soup begins to boil, turn the heat down and gently simmer for 8-10 minutes. 

- Remove from the heat and carefully ladle the soup into the blender. A tip for when you're pouring hot liquids into a blender: place a large metal spoon into the jug of the blender before adding the liquid. The metal in the spoon will absorb some of the heat from the liquid and keep the jug from cracking.  

- Blend until smooth and pass through a sieve.  Serve hot.

Adapted from How Easy is That? Ultimate Grilled Cheese, by Ina Garten

  • 12 slices white bread
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven at 230°C (450°F).

- Butter one side of each slice of bread and turn over. 

- Spread a each slice of bread with a thin layer of mustard.

- Combine the cheddar and mozzarella and divide it into 6 portions. 

- With the mustard-side up, top 6 slices of bread with about 2 ounces of cheese per slice. 

- Top each of the six slices with another slice of bread, this time with the mustard-side facing down. So this is how your sandwich should be assembled: the buttered sides of the bread should be on the outside and inside you should have mustard and cheese sandwiched together. 

- Place the sandwiches on a grill rack and place in the preheated oven. 

- Grill for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the top of the bread starts to brown lightly. 

-Remove from the oven and flip over. Grill for an additional 5-7 minutes. 

- Remove from oven and serve alongside the tomato soup.

Until next, eat well, pray hard and love deeply. 

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  1. hai..what a pleasure to read..keep em coming..

    1. The pleasure of the experience was nuts :) Thanks for reading H&HH and keep following!

  2. Hi Insha,

    Great recipe for tomato soup, can't wait to try it tomorrow!
    There is just one thing I don't understand, you haven't mentioned what you did with the whole bulb of roasted garlic. Did you add it to the soup as it cooked or directly to the blender once all the vegetables had cooked together?


    1. Sorry about that! That was part of the recipe I was adapting. I don't use a whole bulb. I infuse the tomatoes with minced garlic and dried basil. Thanks for pointing out that giant error and many thanks for reading! Let me know how the soup turns out :)

  3. Your recipe looks delicious! I really found this too much informatives. Thanks for the awesome recipe! You can read some related posts here Bengali Food Recipes

  4. Reading about your determination to find something that seemed lost and the camaraderie of the moment truly struck a chord. Sometimes, it's the smallest things that carry the greatest value, and your words beautifully captured that sentiment. Your story also reminded me of a time when I had to make a tough decision regarding my old car. Just like your experience by the canal, I was faced with the reality of parting ways with a significant possession. I eventually opted for car removal Sunshine Coast, and while it was a practical choice, the sentimental value of the car wasn't lost on me.


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