- Start by breaking bread, slicing a strong cheese, and washing strawberries. This way you can have the first course standing over the counter in nibbles as you prepare dinner. No need to wait for the linens today.
- Remove both ends from 3 large leeks. Slice each leek in half lengthwise and then slice finely over the width. Put the diced leeks in a colander and rinse well. Set aside to drain briefly.
- Heat a large stockpot over medium low heat and add 4 tablespoons (half stick) of butter and a few tablespoons of olive oil to keep the butter from burning.
- Add the leeks to the stockpot and add a teaspoon of salt. Stir.
- Add 4 cloves minced garlic. Chop a couple stalks celery, a few carrots, and about half cup of fresh parsley. The celery, carrots, and parsley are not obligatory. They just looked eager from my refrigerator. The garlic is not optional. Let the vegetables cook down for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
- Add 6-8 cups stewed or chopped tomatoes, canned, fresh, or thawed after frozen, along with their juices. I used about 8 cups watery thawed chopped tomatoes that had been frozen since last summer’s garden. The soup should be looking brothy and lovely. If it seems at all thick, add some water or stock. Add 1 tablespoon dried thyme (or 2 tablespoons fresh), a half teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, salt, and plenty of pepper. Taste and re-season accordingly.
- Bring to a bubble over medium high heat, reduce to a simmer on low, cover and let cook for at least 15 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls, top with more chopped parsley and grated parmesan.
Variations: I wasn’t feeling up for anything terribly heavy, but if I’d wanted more to it, I’d add a cup of cooked white beans or rice. Or instead of starting with olive oil and butter, fry a few slices of diced bacon. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon once cooked, saute the leeks in the bacon fat, then return the bacon pieces with the tomatoes. Or substitute a huge sweet yellow onion for the leeks. The options are endless. The results are delish. Yum yum. Eat your vegetables!