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Fall’s arrival means it’s time to make soup

Aspen Clark 7 waits patiently for her mother Heather Gottfried pour her cup fresh tomasoup.  |  Judy Buchenot~For

Aspen Clark, 7, waits patiently for her mother, Heather Gottfried, to pour her a cup of fresh tomato soup. | Judy Buchenot~For Sun-Times Media

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If you go

Who: The Rotary Club of Naperville

What: Soup’s On, an annual fundraiser for local food pantries and charities. The event features soups, sandwiches and other foods from more than 25 area restaurants. School musical groups provide entertainment.

When: 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20

Where: Naperville Central High School, 440 Aurora Ave., Naperville (new location)

Tickets: Adults, $45; seniors (65-plus) and military, $35; children 6 to 12, $10; children 5 and younger, free. Admission price includes food, cookbook and mug.

Web: www.soupsonrotary.com

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Aurora resident Heather Gottfried grew up in rural Montana and learned to cook at an early age.

“My mom was a working mom; so, since I got home before her, I would start cooking dinner for the family,” she says. “There were five of us at dinner. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back, I realize that we didn’t have much money.”

Gottfried usually made casseroles and soups, which helped stretch the family food dollar. A garden also provided many fresh ingredients for family meals during the summer months.

When Gottfried moved to Aurora, she was pleased to learn about the community garden at Georgetown Elementary School. She lived in a townhome close to the school, which made it easier for her to keep her green thumb happy.

“This year, I planted potatoes, leeks, onions, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots,” she says with pride.

In July, she moved into a new single-family home in Aurora and has big plans for her new backyard.

“The garden will go right up there,” she says pointing to a sunny section of her lawn.

Gottfried, 43, often uses her garden produce to make soup. Her bumper crop of tomatoes inspired her to make a big batch of tomato soup.

“I think soup is the easiest meal to make without a recipe,” she says. “I just start with some stock, add the meat leftover from dinner and some vegetables and let it cook.”

Whenever she has chicken, Gottfried makes a batch of stock with the chicken bones to keep in the freezer.

“I just put the bones in a pot with onion, celery and peppers, cook it for three hours, strain it and package it in 2- or 4-cup containers to freeze,” she says.

Some soups, like her tomato soup, require the addition of cream.

“It is important to heat the cream a little before adding it to the hot soup because otherwise it might curdle,” she notes.

Typically, Gottfried pours boiling water over her tomatoes and allows them to sit for a few minutes to loosen the skins for quick peeling. However, she recently learned about a new method.

“If you freeze the tomatoes and then thaw them, the skin just peels off,” she says. “That is definitely easier than using boiling water.”

Gottfried prefers to use Roma tomatoes for her soups but says other varieties can work just as well. She also removes the seeds from the tomatoes, because she doesn’t like their texture in the soup.

When her tomato soup is ready, Gottfried and her daughter Aspen add crackers and cheese or a sandwich on the side for a hearty meal.

“I am a big baker, too, and I love to make homemade Amish white bread from a recipe I got from a Hutterrite, a group similar to the Amish,” she says. “I use the dough to make bread, rolls, cinnamon rolls, everything. I know I should have whole grains, but sometimes there is nothing more comforting than a squishy piece of hot white bread.”

Gottfried is looking forward to sampling many soups at the Rotary Club of Naperville’s annual Soup’s On Event. She has been a member of the club for two years and is helps with the event, which raises funds for charity.

She invites others to add simple comfort to a chilly autumn evening by trying her recipes for tomato soup and Amish White Bread.

Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup

1/4 cup butter

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

3 pounds Roma or other fresh garden tomatoes

4 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil (optional)

Remove skins and seeds, and chop tomatoes. There needs to be at least 4 cups of chopped tomatoes, so add more if needed. Set aside. Peel and chop onion.

Melt butter in a large stock pot and sauté onion until tender. Dice garlic and add to onion. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, sugar, salt, pepper and baking soda. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to a simmer. Cook for at least one hour or until tomatoes have broken apart.

Heat cream in the microwave and then add to soup. Mix well and taste. Adjust sugar, salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with chopped fresh basil if desired. Makes 8 to 10 cups. Soup freezes nicely.

Amish White Bread

1 cup hot water

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 cup vegetable oil

3 cups flour

Dissolve the sugar in the hot water in a large bowl. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Allow the yeast to “proof” for about 10 minutes until it looks creamy and foamy. Mix the salt and the oil into yeast mixture. Add flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well by hand or with a mixer outfitted with a dough hook. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board until it is smooth — 5 to 10 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let it rise one hour or until doubled. Punch the dough down and knead again for a couple of minutes. Shape into a loaf or divide into 12 dinner rolls. Allow to rise again for about 30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes for a loaf or about 20 to 25 minutes for rolls. Each batch makes one regular loaf of bread or a dozen dinner rolls. If desired, whole wheat flour can be substituted for all or part of the white flour.

If you go

Who: The Rotary Club of Naperville

What: Soup’s On, an annual fundraiser for local food pantries and charities. The event features soups, sandwiches and other foods from more than 25 area restaurants. School musical groups provide entertainment.

When: 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20

Where: Naperville Central High School, 440 Aurora Ave., Naperville (new location)

Tickets: Adults, $45; seniors (65-plus) and military, $35; children 6 to 12, $10; children 5 and younger, free. Admission price includes food, cookbook and mug.

Web: www.soupsonrotary.com



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