This time of year is always hard for me. It was my mom’s birthday at the end of April and then Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend. I’ve seen quite a few instagram giveaways that say something like, “Tag your mom!” or “Tell us what you’re going to make mom this weekend!” in order to win. Suddenly you realize you do not qualify for these give-aways… or I could lie and say, “I’m making my mom waffles!” …or I could tell the truth and say, “My mom’s not alive anymore, but I would bake her a cake!” which feels like you’re playing some kind of pity card to win… honestly, the easiest thing to do is to just skip past and not enter at all.
It’s not that I have something against Mother’s Day… I think it’s such a sweet and beautiful day to celebrate all the moms out there. I love seeing friends celebrate their moms and I still find ways to celebrate my mom, even though she’s not here. Which is what I did when I made my mom’s tomato soup and pretzels!
This meal reminds me of her for two main reasons. First, she used to make this soup and these pretzels ALL the time. It was a pretty common lunch in our household on the weekends and it reminds me of those lazy days where we’d all be home relaxing, spending time together. She’d also often make this meal if I stayed home sick. You know those moments or memories that you can close your eyes and almost feel how happy and safe you were? Well, that memory for me is of laying in the couch in our living room covered in the green fleece blanket, the warmth of the sun through the skylights, the smell of pretzels baking in the oven, and the sound of my mom clicking away on her laptop or calculator (she was an accountant) as she worked. You know in Peter Pan when he says think of a happy thought and you can fly? That would probably be my happy thought.
This meal also reminds me of my mom because when I got older, we started making a regular habit of mom-daughter dates at Panera. My mom would always say that she missed having Swedish cafes that would serve light lunches of sandwiches or salads, so she was really happy when a Panera opened up close to where we lived. It wasn’t perfect food, but we loved to go there and get a soup-salad combination after a little shopping. It was the time in my life when I started to feel closer to my mom as an adult. I’d always been somewhat close to my mom, but it was around the time I started to feel like we could relate to each other as equals. I remember she loved to shop at Chicos, and suddenly I thought the clothes in there were sort of cute… and I actually wanted to run errands with her… and I had time to sit down for a lunch where we could talk about life… in an adult way :).
So this recipe is a way to honor my mom on this mother’s day week and say thank you for always being there for me… when I was sick on the couch, or when I was growing into adulthood, my mom was always there for me.
And she passed on her love of baking to me and for that, I am truly grateful! I actually found out recently that this pretzel recipe came from my American aunt, who I was also close with and who has also passed on. So this is a little tribute to her as well.
I adapted the pretzels a little bit by adding some Parmesan cheese on top and I think it turned out great! The cheese adds a little bit of salt but also the smoky flavor of cooked cheese… de-licious. Sometimes my mom would just make pretzels without soup, and one of our favorite ways to eat them was with cream cheese! So to honor that tradition, I made a little cream cheese mixed with fresh basil and a touch of salt. I could have eaten these pretzel twists and cream cheese all. day. long.
But the soup is really good too! I think my mom actually got this recipe from one of the many cooking magazines that my sister and I would often get her a subscription to as a gift… Bon Appetite, Cooks, Food and Wine… I think she had them all! Although my mom loved baking, she was also pretty talented with cooking in general (another skill I have to thank her for). A long time ago, I typed up some of my favorite recipes from her, but I didn’t write down where this recipe originally comes from (if anyone knows, send me a message so I can give them credit!).
It’s one of my favorite soups she made because it’s the perfect balance of tangy from the tomatoes and creamy from the… well, cream! It also has a bit of smokiness from roasted red peppers and a touch of spice from the cayenne. The basil is actually something she hand-wrote onto my printed recipe, so it might be an adaptation she made… but either way, the basil adds a perfect fresh, finishing touch.
And to really blow your mind, you can always dip the pretzels in the soup…. trust me, it’s good!
So there you have it… one of my favorite recipes (or really two recipes) from my mom…. plus a little tribute to her. If your mom is around, I hope you have a wonderful weekend celebrating her (and don’t forget to tell her how much you appreciate her!). And if you’re like me and your mom is not around, know that you are not alone and that I hope you have found your own way to continue to celebrate her memory on days like this. And to all the moms out there – happy mother’s day to you!
Creamy Roasted Pepper-Tomato Soup
- 2 tablespoons butter / smör
- 2 tablespoons flour / vetemjöl
- 2 cups tomato juice / 4.7 dl passerade tomater
- 1 cup whipping cream / 2.3 dl vispgrädde
- 35 oz canned diced tomatoes / 1000g krossade tomater
- 1 cup roasted peppers / 2.3 dl grillad paprika
- 1 clove garlic / vitlök
- 1 teaspoon tarragon / dragon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne / cayenne peppar
- salt and pepper
- basil / basilika
- Melt the butter in a pot over medium-high heat.
- Stir in the flour to make a roux.
- After about 1 minute, slowly add in the tomato juice and cream, whisking constantly to avoid any chunks forming.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, tarragon, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Let soup simmer at medium-low for about 15 minutes.
- Use a hand blender (or regular blender if you don’t have one) to blend up most of the larger chunks in the soup.
- Top the soup with strips of fresh basil and enjoy!
Parmesan Pretzel Braids
- 0.6 oz fresh active yeast / 17 g färsk jäst
- ¾ cup water / 1.8 dl vatten
- 1 tablespoon olive oil / olivolja
- 2¼ cup flour / 5.3 dl vetemjöl
- ¼ teaspoon salt / salt
- 1 cup water + 3 teaspoons baking soda / 2.3 dl vatten + 3 tsp natriumbikarbonat
- Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C.
- Heat the water in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or until lukewarm (you can test with your knuckle).
- Crumble the yeast into the warm water, stirring with a wooden spoon, allowing a few minutes to completely disintegrate.
- Add olive oil, then the flour and salt, stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Knead the dough well, for 5-7 minutes.
- Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 20 – 25 minutes.
- When dough has risen, split the dough into 8 equal pieces.
- Roll out each piece of dough into a long “rope” and connect two ropes together at the top (pinch the dough together), then twist to for a braid, connecting the ends at the bottom.
- Mix the water and baking soda solution using hot water from the tap.
- Dip each pretzel braid into the soda solution, being sure to flip so all sides are coated well.
- Place the pretzels on a baking sheet lined with baking paper (or a greased pan).
- Add salt and shaved Parmesan to the tops of each pretzel
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.