rocky mountain arsenal wildlife refuge + a breakfast shakshuka

If you are a parent with a small child (or children), my guess is that you are about to (or already have) spent a whole lot of time with your kids. It's winter break and most preschools are closed for the holidays. My own children have been off since December 20th and classes don't resume until January 7th! Yup. There's a whole lot of quality time taking place up in here...

Since winter break began, we have visited the Children's Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum, the Denver Art Museum, and the Museum of Nature and Science (also referred to in our household as "The Dinosaur Museum"). Joyce, our fabulous realtor, cooked a five-course dinner at our home for some friends (party!) and we ate lots of delicious food at Christmas Eve dinner…and even more yumminess at a lunch the following day. I felt like a walk was in order and I wanted to do something new…

So when my friend Kelly asked me if I wanted to go to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, I was game. It was also going to be 60 degrees in Denver (we are having a stretch of mild weather), so really, how could I refuse? I don't know why I hadn't visited the refuge before-- it's so close and so cool!

The refuge sits on about 15,000 acres and it's only 10 miles outside of Denver. I would liken it to the distance between Manhattan and Jacob Riis beach; you can't believe it's so close and yet it seems so far away. The refuge has gone from Native American hunting grounds, to homesteader farmland, to a WWII weapons arsenal and an Army chemical manufacturing facility (I believe sarin and mustard gas were produced here), to land leased to the Shell Oil Company. The arsenal was quite controversial until it closed in 1992, but then it was cleaned up (a major urban achievement) and turned into a wildlife refuge, managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Today you can find more than 330 species of wildlife at the former arsenal.

We parked in the lot near the Visitor's Center and immediately spotted two coyotes. The kids colored coyote masks, howled a bit, alarmed some of the other visitors, and we snagged free exploration packs (borrowed for the day), complete with magnifying glasses, nets and bird charts. Then we set off in the direction of the bison (you have to drive, you can't walk or bike due to safety concerns).

After viewing some bison (we saw calves too!), we walked around both lakes and set up a picnic lunch. The views of the Rocky Mountains were breathtaking. If you are looking for someplace near the city and want to see wildlife, this is the place to do it! It's a hidden gem that's right in your own backyard. 


Getting there: It takes about 15-20 minutes from our home in the Congress Park section of Denver (close to the Botanic Gardens). 
Admission: Free!
Activities: The new Visitor's Center has a lot of information, colorful wall panels and a kids activities room. Pick up an exploration pack too!

Hiking or walking on an empty stomach is a big no-no in my book. I get grumpy and so do the boys. So before we set out on our arsenal excursion, I made this simple and super tasty dish. Shakshuka, eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, is one of my favorite things to eat in the morning and it's relatively easy to make. I've posted the dish before and I've been playing around with the recipe ever since.
For that post I used an old Saveur recipe, adapted by Smitten Kitchen. This time I futzed around with the original recipe and made a few adjustments- but they were pretty minimal. Instead of using 8 cloves of garlic, I used 5. I also used 3 jalapeño peppers instead of 5 Anaheim chiles. Instead of crushing the tomatoes by hand, I pureed them (I like the sauce a little bit smooth, though there is some bite thanks to the peppers and onions) and I cooked the sauce longer than suggested, until the garlic was really soft (that's just my preference).
I firmly believe that recipes are meant to be tinkered with, so fool around with it until you find what tastes best to  you. 
Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Shakshuka
(Adapted from Saveur)
Serves 4-6
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. paprika
1  28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained (I puree them)
Kosher salt, to taste
8 eggs (I always use at least 6)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pita, for serving

1. Heat the oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat (I love using my cast iron skillet for this dish). Add the chiles and the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes (this step takes me 5-7 minutes).

2. Put the tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush them with your hands (see note above, I favor pureed tomatoes). Add the crushed (or pureed) tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened slightly, about 20 minutes (sometimes longer, taste it). Season the sauce with salt.

3. Crack the eggs over the sauce so that the eggs are evenly distributed across the sauce's surface. Cover the skillet and cook until the yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle the shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pita, for dipping.

You can find the original recipe here.

Share it with a group of friends, a loved one, some kids…or just gobble it up yourself! Enjoy!

Other shakshuka recipes that I can not wait to try:
This one from David Leibovitz
This one from Kate Bradley's Kenko Kitchen
This one from Melissa Clark at the New York Times

On 'Happy' and Heidi's Simple Fire Roasted Tomato Soup (which makes me happy)

Most our boxes have been unpacked and we are settling into our new home. I'm getting back to doing what I like to do once my boys are asleep for the night; namely, watching documentary films. My friend Kelly put me on to a film called, simply enough, Happy. And since I'm always interested in happiness, I decided to check it out. 
Happy is not one of those documentaries that moves you to tears (like The Cove or Waiting for Superman-- both of which had me writing lots of letters to important people well into the wee hours of the night), but it made some interesting points and I found moments of the film to be quite inspirational (special appearance by the Dalai Lama included).
The film-makers interviewed people from 14 different countries and looked at their lifestyles and their overall happiness. (The United States ranks 23rd in overall happiness when compared to all other countries.Ugh.)
About 50% of a person's happiness is pre-determined by genetics, also called the "genetic set-point". A shockingly low 10% comes from circumstances which include income, occupation, gender, age, personal experiences-- things like that. Which leaves a whopping 40% of a person's happiness in their own hands, meaning that they can decided to do things that make them feel fulfilled and happy. 
The film opens with a man from Kolkata who makes his living as a rickshaw driver. His hands are calloused, his feet don't look too great, and he has to muck around town during monsoon season. But the man doesn't mind; he is content and seems to be genuinely happy. A large part his happiness is derived from the love he receives from his family and his community. He feels like he has everything he needs in his life to be fulfilled.
Then there's a woman from Denmark who moves into a co-housing community following the dissolution of her marriage. Chores are shared, as is child rearing. The community gives her strength and assistance. 
The film-makers interviewed people from all walks of life but the common thread throughout all of their stories was the same: family, compassion, giving and community have a tremendous impact on happiness.  
I couldn't help think about some of the people I met with when I was at Big Law doing contract work. Here were these associates, at the top of their profession, with excellent credential and financial success. Yet most of them seemed stressed out and pretty unhappy, dare I say depressed (at least that was my perception). How could the rickshaw driver who lived with his family in a worn-down hut appear to be so much happier than the lawyers I worked with on Wall Street? The film-makers suggest that the hedonic treadmill might have something to do with it. 
Happy looks at an alarming trend among young Japanese men in Tokyo who are literally working themselves to death (karoshi), never taking a break until they collapsed from stress and exhaustion (usually in the form of a deadly heart attack). But in Osaka, where people enjoy a much more relaxed lifestyle, there are more centenarians on the island than anywhere else on Earth. The elderly engage with one another on a regular basis and there's an extremely tight-knit community-- both of which seem to cultivate long, healthy and happy lives. 
Another interesting point that was made in the film is that excessive amounts of money can't buy happiness. Money does increase happiness when it raises an individual out of poverty (or homelessness). But people who can afford their basic necessities (housing, running water, education, health care, transportation etc.)with a bit leftover, are (reportedly) just as happy as people who earned 20 times more. At least that's the conclusion this film makes.  
I've been thinking a lot about happiness recently, so I enjoyed some of the points made in Happy. It was a good way to spend an hour or so and it gave me some 'food for thought.' 
Speaking of food, here's a really simple soup I made last week. You can add coconut milk or brown rice, though I went with whole wheat couscous and a poached egg. Just add what will make, happy.
::For more on happiness, here's a link to PBS This Emotional Life. 
Simple Fire Roasted Tomato Soup 
Adapted ever-so-slightly from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks, Adapted from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now.
{Try to use cans that use BPA-free liners.} 
Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 25 min
Serves 4
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
1 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
1 (28-ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes (pref. fire-roasted)
Optional: 1/2 of a 14-ounce can coconut milk

Optional: cup of whole wheat couscous or brown rice
Optional: toasted slivered almonds
Optional: poached egg (I fill up a pot with water, add a capful of vinegar, let it boil, put the egg in, give the water a swirl after a minute or two-- to get the egg up from the bottom-- and then I use a slotted spoon to remove it from the water.)
Optional: torn parsley, fresh oregano, pan-fried paneer.

In a large pot over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onions and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions really soften up - 10 minutes or so. Not so much that they brown, just until they're completely tender and unstructured.

Stir in the curry powder, coriander, cumin, and chile flakes, and cook just until the spices are fragrant and toasty - stirring constantly at this point. Just 30 seconds or so. Stir in the tomatoes, the juices from the cans, and 3 cups of water. Simmer for fifteen minutes or so, then puree with an immersion blender until smooth. At this point you can decide if you'd like your soup even a bit thinner - if so, you can thin it with more water, or if you like a creamy version, with some coconut milk. Taste and adjust with more salt to taste.
Add your toppings, couscous or rice, egg and/or herbs. 

Pistachio-Rosewater Meringues (and another year on Earth)

I'm hooked on the (relatively new and critically acclaimed) HBO show Girls. The younger-me identifies with the show's main character who lives a post-college life in New York City and grapples with life's ebbs and flows, self-doubt, job insecurity and budget crunching. And while the show takes me down memory lane just a bit, as I watch it I find myself being thankful that I am, in fact, a little bit older. I occasionally grumble about moving out of the 25-34 age demographic, but I wouldn't want to go back (not that you can anyway). I like this station of life.
I've thought long and hard about my politics and core beliefs. I've considered (at great lengths) what's important to me and what really isn't a priority anymore. I've re-evaluated and re-assessed. Emotional stability and self-confidence, which eluded me somewhat in my twenties, I've been able to find in my mid-(ahem, late) thirties.  
I'll admit that every now and again I'm stuck by the desire to hunt down some one from my past and shout out, "Hey, remember me? I'm not a mess anymore! I've got it together! I'm an adult!" But those moments are few and far between, as I'm not looking for anyone's validation in the way that I might have been a decade ago. That's the benefit of age. 
Which brings me to my birthday meringues...
I first tasted these Pistachio-Rosewater Meringues at a dinner party a few years ago. My friend Yana had us over for an Ottolenghi-Middle-Eastern-inspired feast. The meal was spectacular and it was capped off by these little beauties: sweet, light, delicate and delicious, meringues.
I'd always wanted to make them at home, but I didn't know the first thing about baking. And I was certain that I would mess them up if I even tried. So I never did. 
But several years have passed and I'm a bit older and a bit wiser. I'm also fairly confident in the kitchen. When I saw rosewater at my local market, I decided to pick up a bottle. I knew then and there that those meringues were getting made in the not-so-distant future.
I made them last night and they came out perfectly. I also discovered that while they might appear challenging to make, the ingredients are simple and the preparation is straight-forward. 
My take-way from the meringue success, and using it as a metaphor for the next year of my life, is this: Have the confidence to try new things and don't let prospect of failure stop you in your tracks. You've got it together. You know who are. That is the gift of age. Enjoy it and happy birthday (to me). 

The sugar began to caramelize pretty quickly, so I had to start again. I've since learned from a CCN contributor that Denverites (or those cooking at altitude) should use a thermometer and heat the oven 10 degrees lower than the suggested temperature, as Denver's boiling temperature is 10 degrees lower than what you'll find at sea level.

Pistachio-Rosewater Meringues 
Inspiration and combination from Yotam Ottolenghi's eponymous cookbook, Ottolenghi. With some adaptions from the Joy of Baking and the Guardian UK. See additional links below.
Yields 12-16
1 cup of granulated sugar (I used white, not caster)
4 egg whites (Cold eggs are easier to separate. Once they are separated, cover the egg whites and let them come to room temperature before using, about 30 minutes.) 
*In general, the ratio for meringues is 1/4 cup of sugar/per egg white. 
1 1/4 teaspoons of rosewater or orange blossom water
A big handful of pistachio nuts, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread the sugar evenly over a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Put the tray in the oven for 8 minutes or until the sugar is hot and starting to dissolve at edges, but not caramelized. (See photo note above if you live in Denver.)
2. While the sugar is in oven, put the egg whites in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk. When sugar is almost ready, turn mixer on high and let it work for a minute or until the egg whites start to froth.
3. Carefully pour the sugar into the whisked whites (I used the parchment paper as a funnel and poured the sugar in that way). Add the rosewater (or orange blossom water) and continue whisking on high for 10 minutes or until the meringue is beautifully smooth, and holds a shape.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 225F** Important step. 
5. Line a baking tray or two with parchment paper (the one you just used for the sugar is fine). And spread the pistachios on a board and finely chop them.
6. Get two big kitchen spoons. Use one spoon to scoop up a big ball of the meringue, and use the other spoon to scrape it off and gently roll the ball into the pistachios. Place the meringues nuts-up on the baking tray. Repeat this step.
7. Place the meringues in the oven and bake for 2 hours. Rotate the baking sheet every 1/2 hour. Check to see if they're done. They should be dry on the outside and soft on the inside.  
Store the meringues in a dry place at room temperature. 
Note: Some recipes suggest that you leave the meringues in the oven for another 4 hours--with the temperature off (this is after the initial 2 hours of baking is complete). I didn't do this (I baked them for 2 hours at 225F) and I thought the texture was spot-on.
I came across this Guardian link on "How to Make Perfect Meringues" which offers up some more guidance on all things meringue. 

The Daily Dish/LA Times weighs in on the subject. 

And some notes from The Joy of Baking (though I didn't use cream of tartar): 
There are a few things to keep in mind when making meringue cookies. The standard ratio when making hard meringues is 1/4 cup (50 grams) of granulated white sugar for every egg white. This amount of sugar is needed to give the meringue its crispness. Adding the sugar gradually to the egg whites ensures that the sugar completely dissolves and does not produce a gritty meringue. Cream of tartar is used in the whipping of egg whites to stabilize them and allows them to reach maximum volume. Also, it is a good idea to use parchment paper or aluminum foil to line your baking sheets, not wax paper, as the meringue will sometimes stick to wax paper.
Baking the meringues in a slow oven allows for gradual evaporation of the moisture from the meringues. If the oven temperature is too high, the outside of the meringue will dry and set too quickly. You will also notice that the outside of the meringue separates from the inside. Another indicator that your oven is too high is when the meringue starts to brown which causes the sugar to caramelize. If this happens, lower the temperature about 25 degrees F. If you decide to make meringues on a rainy or humid day, you will probably have to bake the meringues longer (could be up to 30 minutes more) than on a dry day. Lastly, to prevent cracking of the meringues, do not open the oven door during the first half of the baking time.

A Market Inspiration: Swiss Rösti topped with Shakshuka

Last week I took the boys to the Denver Christkindl Market, a traditional German Christmas market that replicates the kind of markets that have existed in Germany and throughout parts of Western Europe for over 700 years. The month-long market (which ends on December, 22) is located at Skyline Park in Downtown Denver, right on 16th Street at Arapahoe. 
Vendors are selling German crafts (ornaments, biersteins, wood-carved toys, lace, nesting dolls, etc.) from traditional wooden stalls. 
And in addition to the crafts (which were quite beautiful), there's lots of great food: cinnamon pretzels, German pastries, crepes, and bratwurst, to name a few.... 
You can eat your culinary treats (and drink some Glühwein too) in a large tent at the end of the market. The tent is filled with picnic tables and benches, a bar, and a stage designated for musical performances.

One of my favorite food vendors at the market is Latke Love. They are serving traditional potato latkes (which I always considered quintessential Jewish food from Eastern Europe, but turns out also exists as a German dish called Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen). I got the classic: latkes topped with applesauce and cinnamon whipped cream. I'm also a big fan of their other vegetarian option, Oy Vey Caliente!- where latkes are piled high and topped with green chili and a poached egg. Delicious!(For the omnivores, there are meat options too.)  
Now many cuisines have potato latkes, they just go by a different name. 
In Germany the latke is called Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen. In Luxembourg you'd order Gromperekichelcher. Poles slather their placki ziemniaczane in sour cream. Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians call their potato pancake deruny or draniki. And the Swiss have Rösti, a very large potato pancake that's a lot like a latke, except it doesn't contain eggs or flour. 
There are variations on rösti: some recipes add herbs like rosemary and caraway seeds. Others add meat, eggs or cheese. But they are all basically grated potato, that's been pressed and fried in a pan. 
This rösti recipe, considered the definitive version, is from Restaurant Della Casa in Bern. It was first published in the January/February 1998 issue of Saveur magazine. And last month, in celebration of Saveur's 150th issue, they reprinted it under 150 Classic Recipes. (I also saw it on Lottie + Doof, one of my favorite food blogs.)
Rösti: Swiss Hash Browns (Courtesy of Saveur Magazine


2¼ lb. russet potatoes (about 3 large)
2 tbsp. lard or unsalted butter
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste


1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes, and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Peel potatoes, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Grate potatoes using the large holes on a cheese grater; set aside.

2. Heat butter (or lard) and oil in an 8" nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When lard has melted, add potatoes, sprinkle with salt, and mix well, coating potatoes with fat. Using a metal spatula, gently press potatoes, molding them to fit the skillet. Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
3. Cover skillet with a large inverted plate, invert the rösti over onto plate, then slide it back into the skillet, cooked side up; cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, sprinkle with salt, and cut into wedges to serve. 

Now rösti is plenty delicious on its own, but I was feeling inspired by the latke toppings I'd seen at the market. I decided to top the potatoes with shakshuka, a fabulous dish whereby eggs are simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. 
I used a tried-and-true recipe that I've posted here, but  made a few adaptations:

  • Omitted the peppers and instead added a few pinches of red pepper flakes.
  • Omitted the fresh parsley and instead used a few pinches of dried parsley.
  • Used 1/2 a small onion and added one shallot, chopped.
  • Pulsed the sauce a few times with an immersion blender to give it more of a pomodoro-like consistency, which I thought would go better on top of the potatoes.

But get creative. Top the rösti with something you like. Or, you can do as Swiss purists do...and eat it like it's been eaten at Bern's Restaurant Della Casa for hundreds of years.
Happy holidays and happy eating! 

Tomatina: A Tomato Fest (Tart and Soup)

A few years ago my husband and I took our (then) six-week old son to Spain. We travelled to Barcelona, Figures and Valencia. The food was incredible, the architecture was magnificent, and the people were kind. Let me tell you, Spain is my kind of country. 
Anyway, not too far from Valencia is a little town called Buñol. And every year, around this time, Tomatina takes place. Tens of thousands of revelers hit the streets and pound each other with tomatoes. 

The festival is in its 64th year, and I'm hoping that next summer we can go...maybe as a layover on the way back to the United States after we visit my brother and his family? It's a thought.

Well back here in Colorado I've got enough tomatoes to hold my own little Buñol-style festival in our backyard. But not wanting to be wasteful (and thinking it wouldn't be a good idea to pummel Otis, Theo and Omar with the season's bounty), I thought it best to turn them into these two dishes: a Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart and a Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup.

Motherhood got in the way of me grabbing the tart after it baked for 40 it was slightly burnt, but it was still delicious! The soup was pure perfection. Tomatoes this time of year are simply amazing and I've got lots of them on hand. 

I’m also happy to report that my own tomato plants are finally starting to produce some fruit. I am so excited! Unfortunately we are moving in just a few days, so I will have to pick what is ripe and hope the rest don't die when I attempt a re-planting-transplant-procedure.  (If anyone has any tips on how to transplant tomatoes successfully, please, oh please, let me know!) We've got Green Zebras and Black Krims (or are they Black Zebras?). I can't remember because the little sign/name tag became sun bleached. I guess I'll be able to tell once they grow a bit more. I'm looking forward to trying lots of tomato recipes over the next few weeks...they just keep coming and coming! 

If you're in Colorado, check out some of the tomato festivals that are happening this weekend. Now nothing can compare to the scale and scope of Spain's festivities, but you can pick-up delicious produce, support local farms, taste some inspired dishes and have a great afternoon. I'm thinking about heading over to Ollin Farms on Sunday (Sept. 2), but we will see how the move goes. Boxes and tomatoes, boxes and tomatoes….
And so it goes! Enjoy.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart (Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, The New York Times, with Pâte Brisée/ Tart Dough recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan)
Serves 6
Pâte Brisée/ Tart Dough, chilled for 3 hours, and then rolled out in to a 10 inch pie pan (no par-baking)*

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped basil 
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 eggs

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 10-inch tart pan and line it with the pastry. Keep in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

2. Brush the mustard over the bottom of the dough. Slice the tomatoes and arrange over the mustard in concentric circles, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the herbs.

3. Beat together the eggs and goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the tomatoes. Drizzle on the olive oil. Place in the oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
* Note: The original recipe uses this recipe for the pastry: 1 yeasted olive oil pastry (1/2 recipe). I decided to use a dough that I've used many times, mainly since I had all the ingredients in my pantry and didn't have to buy anything extra. I also wanted to go with something that I’ve deemed "fool proof."

* * *

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup (Adapted slightly from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics)

Serves 5-6
3 tablespoons good olive oil 

1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions) 

2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped 

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves) 

4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large) 

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 

1 1/4 tablespoons tomato paste 
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves 

3 cups vegetable stock, homemade or good quality store-bought

1 tablespoon kosher salt 

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 
(add more to taste, original recipe uses 2 teaspoons) 
1/2 cup heavy cream 

Julienned fresh basil leaves, for garnish 


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, vegetable stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender. 
Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that’s left. (I don't have a food mill and so I used an immersion blender and it was just fine.) Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or croutons.