My Can-Opener’s-Not-Working Soup

Last night I almost had my first completely unreasonable break down of the semester. I was at work until 2am the night before, so decided to spend Friday night in and make a pot of my favorite minestrone. So I cut up some onions, threw them in the pot, added some broth and spices and things, took my can opener and began to open the nice, big can of tomatoes ready on the counter. Except this can opener was not the sturdy, intimidating opener I have at home. It was the college variety. Meaning although it’s made of metal and has a wheel and resembles a can-opener, it does not actually have the capability of opening cans. It took me about 5 minutes to realize that no matter what I tried (flimsy can opener, equally flimsy knife, grunting) I wasn’t opening that can.

This sort of setback should be pretty minor. It’s soup – it can pretty much be made with any ingredients. But I had a hard time dealing with this. Several calls revealed that no one who I knew in my apartment complex had an adequate can opener. On the verge of tears (please don’t judge me too much) I called my boyfriend, and asked him to convince me of my irrationality. Which he did. And then I came to the realization that tomato sauce is really the same set of flavors as canned tomatoes and requires no can opener. And life was better. So I proceeded to invent a soup using all of the available ingredients in my fairly ingredient-less kitchen. And it tasted good enough to eat as leftovers. So, for those trying times, here’s my can-opener-less soup:

1 T olive oil
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp dried basil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 c. chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 c. tomato sauce
3 carrots, sliced
1 russet potato, diced
2 tsp dried oregano
handful of fresh spinach
black pepper to taste
3 T fresh parsley

  • Sautee the onion in olive oil, garlic paste (which I sometimes mix with salt, depending on the brand), and the basil on medium heat for 5 minutes until fairly tender. Add the chicken broth and bay leaf, and let simmer for 15 minutes (while trying to solve can opener dilemna).
  • Add tomato sauce, carrots, and potato, and simmer on medium-low heat, covered, for 40 minutes (while talking to calming boyfriend on Skype).
  • Season with oregano and black pepper. I went heavy on the pepper and I loved the kick. Add spinach and let cook for 2 or 3 minutes longer, until leaves begin to darken. Remove from heat and top with fresh parsley.
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