Share this story

 | By Michelle Sessions DiFranco

Pinched for ‘Thyme’?

Enhance Tomato Soup with aromatic herbs in honor of Our Lady.

I often wonder, did Mary have moments where she was pinched for time and looked for quick and easy solutions to feed her Son? Was there a first-century Palestinian go-to equivalent to grilled cheese and tomato soup?

Well, definitely not out of a can. As a mom, she would’ve prepared food for her family, which would have been humble, kosher and limited to whatever grew in the area at that time. And although it was devoid of many of the ingredients and flavors that have since been discovered in the new world, it was probably still pretty tasty for one reason: aromatic herbs.

There are many flowers and herbs that date back to the times around Christ’s birth. These later came to have religious symbolism related to events in the Bible, liturgical feasts and the Holy Family. Some of the more fragrant herbs are associated with Our Lady for her sweetness and tenderness as a Mother to Jesus. Thyme, for instance, is symbolic for the “Virgin’s Humility.”

As October arrives, so, too, does the month of the Holy Rosary, when we join Mary to contemplate the mysteries of her Son’s birth, life, death and resurrection. And in our garden, the perennial herbs are still plentiful, especially the thyme; I always marvel at the amazing flavors and aromatics from God’s creation. And on those busy fall evenings, nothing is more satisfying than a simple grilled cheese sandwich and bowl of tomato soup. Even when I’m pinched for time, I prefer to put in a bit of extra effort with the sweet and fragrant herbs from our garden. Especially in October, the month of the Holy Rosary, and in remembrance of Our Lady’s humility and sweetness.

Michelle Sessions DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of three children.

¡Lee este artículo en español! (Spanish Language Version)

Tomato Soup with Herbs

  • 2 strips of bacon (chopped)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1-2 carrots (diced)
  • 2 celery stalks (diced)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (stems removed)
  • 5 large basil leaves (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with sauce
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

On medium to high heat, cook the bacon until crisp in a medium stock pot or Dutch oven (constantly stirring). Add the onion, carrot, celery, and a dash of kosher salt to the pot and sauté for 5-6 minutes on medium heat, or until the onion is cooked.

Add the thyme, basil and garlic to the pot and sauté for another minute. Pour in the can of tomatoes with the sauce and break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Add the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the soup for 25-35 minutes, or until the carrots and celery are fully cooked. Turn off heat and puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth (or let cool slightly and add to a regular blender to puree and return back to pot). Bring pureed soup to a simmer over low to medium heat. Add the heavy cream and stir until combined. Add additional kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Pair with a grilled cheese sandwich and/or top off with croutons!