I am always looking for inspiration when it comes to my cooking. I usually get inspired when I'm dining out. I taste a dish at a restaurant and I want to recreate it in my own way. I sometimes find inspiration from the beautiful food posts I see on social media. I never thought I would get inspired by one of my thrifted finds.
Let's back up a bit. Along with blogging recipes for Bailey & James, I am also a vintage buyer for the shop. I have been to many flea markets, thrift stores, and estate sales looking for the perfect treasure for the store. I never know what I am going to find. Last year, I was at an estate sale. It was the last day and everything was pretty picked over. I searched the house for something that spoke to me. It wasn't until I made it to the basement that something caught my eye, a stack of exotic destination prints. They looked like watercolors and were all scenes from different vacation spots; Tahiti, Fiji, and Australia. As I flipped through them I soon realized these were not just prints they were menus! Dated May 1958, they were menus from the cruise liner, S.S. Lurline. Each one featured different courses for the dinner hour. I was so intrigued by some of the dishes on the menu and ship name that I grabbed them all.
On the drive home I started to think what would it be like on a cruise in the 1950's? Obviously, there was no rock climbing walls or coffee shops like there are today. What did people do? What did they eat? According to Kantz and Fabian's To Honolulu in Five Days, the S.S. Lurline was a luxury liner that carried 725 travelers from the West Coast to Hawaii from the 1930's to the 1950's. In 1958, the ship made a special voyage to the South Pacific. This excursion lasted 73 day. 73 Days! That's over 2 months. Due to the date and illustrations of my menus, I believe they are from that trip. Can we all just stop and think about a 73 day trip? They saw Auckland, Sydney, and even Tahiti. They dined in the same dining room and slept in the same bed. I wonder if they made lifelong friends on their trip or were ready to get home to the neighbors they left behind. Either way this voyage sounds like a trip of a lifetime.
I also started thinking about the dishes that were featured during that night of dining. Some I had heard of and some I had not. Some of the names even made me laugh out loud. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what the food tasted like. How was it presented? This May, the menus will turn 60 years old. 60 years ago they were traveling across the Pacific Ocean. I cannot believe what excellent condition they are in. I wonder if the basement I got them out of belonged to people that went on the 73 day voyage. To honor this trip of the S.S. Lurline, I decided to do a three part recipe series inspired by the menus. I would start first with an appetizer, main course, and dessert.
This week I want to share with you Tomato Basil Soup with a Parmesan Crisp. This recipe is inspired by the Cream of Tomato Soup served during dinner. I make this soup about once a week in my house. It’s a great way to get my family to eat vegetables. When else is my husband going to get celery in his diet? This is also my base for many other soups like Minestrone and Tortilla. It freezes well and goes great with a grilled cheese sandwich. Today I am sharing it with you and serving it in my fine China, like they did on the S.S. Lurline. You will notice that I am serving it in tea cups. My set does not have bowls and this soup is easy to sip from a cup. The Parmesan Crisp is something new I added. I would advise that you make extra of these crispy babies. They are so delicious I couldn't stop eating them. I hope you enjoy this three part series of recipes inspired by the S.S. Lurline. Glad to have you aboard!
Tomato Basil Soup Serves: 6-8 people Active Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour
Ingredients 2 Tbsp. olive oil 4 small- medium size carrots 2 stalks celery 1 large onion 2 cloves garlic 2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. ground black pepper 4 plum size tomatoes, core removed 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes 2 cups water 1 cup stock (vegetable or chicken) 2 large basil plus small leaves for garnish
1. Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Roughly chop carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and add to the pot. Add salt and pepper and stir often. Cook until vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes.
2. Once softened, add 4 cored plum size tomatoes and toss in with the vegetables. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, water, and broth. Bring soup to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Remove soup from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until no solid vegetables remain. Once blended, add 2 chopped basil leaves and stir into soup. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve soup hot with small basil leaf garnish and Parmesan crisp (see recipe below). Soup can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Parmesan Crisps Active Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided Ground pepper, optional
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon, scoop 1 Tbsp. of shredded parmesan cheese on to parchment paper. 1 tablespoon will equal 1 crisp.
2. Place about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Pat Cheese down using the back of the tablespoon, making the cheese evenly flat. Top each crisp with ground pepper.
3. Bake Parmesan for 4-5 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown. Remove from oven let cool for 2 minute. Using a rubber spatula remove Parmesan cheese from baking sheet and serve with Tomato Soup.
Bailey & James shares lots of love for all things vintage and nostalgic. We take any opportunity to connect on a deeper level with the items brought to the shop. Excited was an understatement when these menus were discovered and shared with the team. If you want to purchase one of these beautiful menus, pop in the shop ASAP! What do you think of this story and the history we shared? Let us know your thoughts on my version of Tomato Basil Soup.