Can we talk about a super weird thing that I did in Wisconsin, last week?
I mean, we’ll get to this crazy good soup after… but this was so weird to me that I have to share. I went to a meat raffle. Yes, you read correctly…a raffle where the prize is random cuts of meats. Was this at a place where one might typically find meat—like a butcher’s or a grocery store? No. It was at the dive-iest dive bar I’ve ever seen in my life.
Let me set the stage for you a bit. The day of the meat raffle was the day of crazy weather. We had to drive through a blizzard to get to a little shack-like bar, but by the time we arrived, it was perfectly sunny. Out front was a freaking 16-year-old dog that wandered in and out of the bar… it even had a bed inside the bar. On a table in the corner of the bar, they had set up a super miniature inflatable pool that they just stacked random meat into. This is not a joke! Chicken, beef, pork…all hanging in a tiny pool for hours…
A bit ahead of the inflatable meat pool were three very sad looking slot machines. The bar was long and skinny and—this blew me away—only had FOUR big glasses. Yes. An establishment created to serve drinks only possessed four large glasses. How do I know this? I was presented my gin and soda in a super tiny glass. I noticed my aunt had a much larger glass. Being that I have both Wisconsin and Florida blood in my veins, I like to drink. Naturally, I asked for a larger glass. “Oh I’m sorry dear, we only have four big glasses and they are all in use.” IS THIS REAL LIFE?
So how does the meat raffle portion work? You buy raffle tickets, and they go through cycles. If your number is called, you either get a pull tab (apparently some sort of gambling thing I’ve never heard of?), a drink, or a trip to go “shopping” at the meat pool. They also had a prime rib roast that you paid to sign a line for the chance to win. I can’t make this stuff up, guys. Couple all of this with the fact that I have recently stopped eating meat (more on this in a different post), and it was one of the strangest experiences of my life.
This soup is also strange, but in a good way. It gets its unique flavor—slightly sweet, a little heat, super tasty—from some Moroccan-inspired ingredients. I used ras el hanout (a north African spice blend) to bring the spicy warmth, a date for a touch of sweetness, and a blend of fire-roasted and sundried tomatoes for a base with tons of flavor.
It all comes together in like 30 minutes, and also reheats super well. I sprinkled a little fresh thyme on top for some color and flavor, but you can easily leave it off or substitute with basil or chives.
I suggest pairing it with something to dip! A grilled cheese would be fantastic, but I used leftover centioli from Pagliacci’s, LOL! It worked perfectly because it’s crisp, cheesy, and spicy.
- 3 tbsp roasted garlic olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp ras el hanout spice blend
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes + 1 can full of water
- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (packed in oil)
- 1 date, pitted and roughly chopped
- fresh thyme, to garnish
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add in the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes until they are very soft, but not brown.
- Stir in the garlic and spices, and cook, stirring for about a minute. Add in the tomatoes, juice from the can, water, tomato paste, sundried tomatoes, and date. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Carefully ladle into a high-powered blender, and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and heat for 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve soup with fresh thyme and dippers of choice!
Happy Birthday to my amazing sister, Rebecca!!!