slow-roasted tomato soup {day 166}


This past week, we started group therapy with a “feelings check-in”. I said mine are a never-ending game of ping pong. Sure, I’ve had some very good, downright funny, moments throughout the days, weeks and months since Mikey died, but at the core lies a gaping hole where my deep-rooted happiness used to gently simmer.

I was anxious about starting group last week, but decided to take the leap because I convinced myself it was more for Isabella than myself. The group is organized by a non-profit called A Caring Hand, and is first and foremost to help children understand and manage their grief. Obviously, parents have a great impact on how their kids handle a traumatic event like this, so while the kids are in smaller groups, by age, the parents talk about parallel issues the kids are working on that week.

I went into group feeling confused. I really didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone, since I barely know how to help myself on some days.

Yes, I dress. I make my kids breakfast, pack lunches and most days get them to school on time.

I do all the things I have to do to survive “on paper”. But the broken bits of my heart—I don’t know how to fix that. It often feels like my body is on life-support, the difference being I have compleyte brain function, and instead it’s my heart that is being sustained so the rest of my body can function. And the whole “time heals” phrase, please just don’t say it, because the further I get from August 7th, the further removed I am from when he was a living, breathing, magnificent man, friend, father and husband.

Time is not my friend right now. Perhaps that feeling will change in months and years to come, but for the purpose of this “feelings check-in”, time is not on my side.

Funny enough, The Stones’ Time is on My Side came on as I was working on recipes for the cookbook. My friend Bryan was over helping me cook, and when the song came on Pandora, I looked at my iPod and said “F— you, Mick—time wasn’t on my husband’s side”, and promptly gave it a thumbs down.

It wasn’t the songs fault. I used to sing it blasting in the car. The trigger for my reaction was that salad you see above—it’s a chickpea, fennel and parmesan salad. I hadn’t made it since before Michael passed away. It is one of my favorite salads, with a black licorice undercurrent from the fennel, salty flecks of shredded Parmesan and chickpeas made from scratch. There’s more to the recipe than those three ingredients, but you’ll have to wait until Spring 2013.

Why did the salad become my undoing? I began flipping through my recipe journal, and my life before August 7th came flooding in like a tsunami of emotions. These were dishes we once shared together. These are dishes I still love, but have to sometimes choke back tears to get down a bite.

And so, this is my cooking life in a world without Mikey. Bryan was none the wiser to the scene playing out in my heart and mind at that moment. I used a generous pinch of wit and sarcasm to beat the feelings into submission. He would’ve no doubt given me a hug and let me cry, but we had work to do, and so I kept myself focused.

I did what I know how to do, what I used to do effortlessly 166 days ago. I chopped, I stirred, I whisked—I even talked to my ingredients, a quirky habit of mine that used to drive Mikey batty. He’d raise an eyebrow and say “you know only crazy people talk to their vegetables”. Yeah, I was crazy alright—crazy for him.


slow-roasted ginger-lime carrots, one of the recipes for City Girl, Country Kitchen (Running Press, 2013)

I don’t have a new recipe to share today, with all my efforts going into the book at the moment, but figured it would be nice to share an oldie but goodie, and one of Mikey’s favorite’s—slow-roasted tomato soup with parmesan croutons. I plan on making a batch myself this weekend since it looks like snow may finally be arriving in New York City.


Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup

serves four

While I love to finish this soup with a bit of cream, you can omit it all together for a lighter, vegan version.

One 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes, juices reserved

salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon brown sugar

drizzle of olive oil, about 2 teaspoons worth

1 cup vegetable stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

Parmesan Skillet Croutons, to garnish (here’s the recipe)

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil; set aside.

Drain tomatoes, saving the juices for preparing the soup (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Slice the tomatoes in half and place cut-side up on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the preheated oven for one hour. Remove tray from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Transfer the cooled tomatoes to a blender. Add the vegetable stock, reserved tomato juice and blend until smooth. Pour soup into a 2-quart pot and heat until warmed, but not boiling. Stir in the cream and cook for one more minute. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste, if necessary. Serve garnished with the parmesan croutons.

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  • CarMar

    “And the whole “time heals” phrase, please just don’t say it, because the further I get from August 7th, the further removed I am from when he was a living, breathing, magnificent man, friend, father and husband.”

  • Janice

    I started following your blog after several others posted about the peanut butter pie, and the loss of your Mikey…thanks for sharing your journey…it always breaks my heart to read your latest…but in between the lines, I see you are also hopeful for your future, which can only be a positive to hang on to in these difficult times…

  • Mary

    Thanks for the post, I know this is a difficult time for you and the girls. You are doing all the right things as far as I can tell. Keep the faith. Be Strong.

  • Tristen

    I can see what you mean, how annoying that must be to hear that time will heal you. I think maybe time does heal because it fades into only memories things which are so clear in the present. But until you can forget, it is going to hurt. And if it was me, I would hurt and hurt and hurt as long as I could in order to keep my husbands memories real to me. I’d hurt for the rest of my life if I could keep them with me if something happened to him. God speed!

  • Maria in NJ

    Amen also to the time heals bull carp…those people never had a love like we experienced…
    33 years and when he comes into my mind I still cry…every stinkin time…
    the soup looks delicious…simple and filling, and comforting…I will be making it soon…

  • Tracey

    So glad you are both going to therapy. Keep going…maybe alone too, will help, at least once or twice.(of course we all KNOW what they will say or won’t say….kind of blah, blah, blah) but it does help a bit for some reason. I didn’t go a lot, but went a couple of times each, when Mom and Tom died. Isn’t death a dreadful thing. Just dreadful. It scares me still to think it will happen again.(death) That pit in the stomach…..Love ya and am praying for you, girl!

  • Diane

    Thanks for sharing your latest life’s moments…
    I to would never want time to heal the feelings I have inside for my hubby no matter the hurt I would want to keep him as close as possible.
    They never really are gone…

  • Lou Birkett

    I read your blog after someone posted it on FB. I’m coming to new York in 3 weeks from the UK and would love to buy you a coffee. I know that’s weird I’m a stranger but I’m touched and moved by your blog every week and would just like to hug you.
    Hope each day brings you something to smile about x

  • Katie C

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I don’t know why but it never occurred to me that one could roast canned tomatoes. All the best to you and your girls.

  • Terry

    A heart on life support–when it comes to grief that just gets right to the center of it all I think. Perfect expression. You are brilliant and strong. Can you feel that so many care? I agree that the “time heals all” phrase so does not work. Perhaps, just perhaps, our generation will begin to say and do things around loss and death that have more meaning. Just my 2 cents.

  • M.C.W.

    Your pain breaks my heart. I wish there was a way for me to endure your suffering for you, leaving only the happiness of your memories in your heart.

  • Susanne

    That looks absolutely delicious, and I am tempted to make it today. I’ve been on a tomato soup kick lately.
    I really enjoy your blog, and I think of your family often.

  • IlinaP

    We have no chance of snow in North Carolina, but I’m making this soup anyway. And you make chick peas from scratch?! You are a force, my friend. I can’t wait to see you!

  • charlotte

    Blessings to you in 2012 Jennie. You certainly deserve some. I’ve used this recipe and it it truly wonderful and comforting. Thank you for all you share. You make the world a better place.

  • Roz@weightingfor50

    Hi Jennie. I have 3 things today: 1) you are amazing in your honesty and emotion on your posts 2) this recipe looks delicious and 3) I am really looking forward to your cookbook to come out!!!!
    All the best to you and your girls!!!!

  • Stephanie R.

    Sending strength and positivity your way, and a thousand good wishes for you and your girls. Can’t wait to buy your cookbook come 2013, for myself and everyone I know.

  • javi

    we just got hit with snow here in Philly and this is on my list of things to make this week.
    That phrase “time heals”… i’ve always loathed it. Its annoying to hear it because really… what if it doesn’t heal? How much time? I don’t care about time, it hurts NOW. Its raw NOW. People don’t really understand that and thats okay. As long as you are aware of where you are and what you need and how you feel.. that is all that matters.
    You and your girls are in my thoughts. <3

  • Belinda

    Jennie-You amaze me. I hope that you and your girls can find peace with your new normal. It will never be the same but with time it will get better. But that is not why I write today although I do want you to know that I remember you in my prayers for you to be given strength. I do not like tomato soup. But my husband does. So when I read your post, I thought he would like the recipe. I made it and I made your homemade croutons which are very similar to croutons my Mom has always made. I also made grilled cheese sandwiches with texas toast. Your tomato soup was incredible and I can no longer say I do not like tomato soup! I had just never had FABULOUS tomato soup! My husband was awed and thrilled! I am looking forward to your cookbook! Thank you! Best, Belinda
    JP’s note: I’m so happy you liked it Belinda!