Q: I enjoyed a delicious tomato soup recipe from the Tribune food pages 10 or 11 years ago. It was an easy recipe and so good. It used canned tomatoes and included acini di pepe pasta. I've misplaced my copy and would love to get the recipe again.
—Betty Rae Smith, Naperville
A: The recipe you wanted was featured in a "Dinner Tonight" column published in the Good Eating section on Jan. 2, 2002. Renee Enna, my Chicago Tribune colleague, created the soup as a fitting response to a Chicago winter. She introduced it to readers with her usual practicality.
"For some, soup seems like an intimidating dish to make from scratch, perhaps because many recipes use phrases like 'homemade stock,' 'strain five times' and 'simmer 7 hours.' This isn't that kind of soup," Enna wrote. "The broth comes from a can, no blenders are involved and it will be ready to ladle into bowls in less than an hour. Fresh herbs are always welcome, but a good-quality dried Italian herb blend will work fine here."
Enna chose acini di pepe, the "peppercorns" pasta, for this soup. The pasta pieces are "tiny and rice shaped," according to "The New Food Lover's Companion." You can substitute other similarly-sized pasta, if you like.
Although you could cook the pasta with the soup, Enna suggested otherwise.
"Preparing it separately lets you control how much--and how many calories--will be added to each bowl. Furthermore, leftover soup freezes better without the pasta," she wrote.
What to serve with the soup? Enna suggested a tossed salad with Italian dressing, crusty bread and butter, and pound cake with fruit.
Here are some more of her tips from the story:
•"As you can see by the ingredient list for this recipe, everything is shelf-stable. It's worth stocking up on canned goods for future dishes like this one."
•"This recipe is easily doubled, and it freezes well. Freezing it in single-serving, freezer- and microwave-safe containers turns it into a portable lunch option too."
•"Fresh onions taste best, but no onions constitute a catastrophe. It's worth stocking a bag of frozen diced onions for emergencies."
Tomato-bean soup with pasta
Prep: 10 minutes.
Cook: 30 minutes.
Makes: 6 servings
"If you prefer, any assortment of canned or frozen vegetables also can be used; just add with tomatoes and beans. You may need to add additional broth or water," wrote Chicago Tribune's Renee Enna of this recipe, a "Dinner Tonight" column from 2002.
1 cup acini di pepe or any small soup pasta
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced