Soup and Strata

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When I'm at home with my own family for Christmas we celebrate with lots of set traditions, most of which revolve around food. Here in Australia, my in-laws have a much more flexible, casual approach to the holidays. Both are fun, and I'm excited to have been tasked with setting the menu for the 25th this year. Fresh tomato soup and strata (a kind of savoury bread pudding) based on this recipe are two dishes I plan to serve at our al fresco Christmas brunch around the Christmas Tree. They're the perfect cross between comfort foods and light bites, ideal for a bit of indulgence on a hot day spent lounging together on the verandah and by the pool. They're also a super easy way to make sure the fridge is stocked and ready for hungry family and friends dropping by throughout the festive season.

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Fresh tomato soup recipe:

Heat up a tbs of olive oil in a saucepan and toss in a roughly chopped large onion, carrot and a couple cloves of peeled garlic. While they soften chop 2kg fresh tomatoes and add them in. Tear up some basil leaves and throw them in the pot with a pinch of salt and about a cup of water. Let simmer for 30 minutes and run through a blender in batches to smooth before serving. This recipe cost less than $4 to make and yields enough soup for Mr. Spring and I to have a bowl each straight away and stow away two 1.5L mason jars for later.

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Strata recipe:

In the food processor wizz up a roughly chopped bunch of spring onions, a handful of sundried tomatoes and pitted olives (these are optional but Mr. Spring loves this extra-savoury twist!), 5 eggs, half a container of sour cream (about 100ml), and a handful of grated sharp cheddar. Pour the eggy liquid over slices of baguette arranged in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake in a 180C/360F oven for 30 mins.

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 {Kitchen tip: I like to pick up a few baguettes from the bargain bin at the supermarket at about 70¢ per loaf . Stored in the freezer, they're always on hand for whipping up this recipe (or similar) at short notice on the cheap}

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 {Kitchen tip: Freezer-safe mason jars are so handy! I always keep a few jars of soup in the deepfreeze for quick weekday meal fixes/last minute entertaining}