Sopa Castellana #tributetolis #daringbakers

Spanish tomato soup chef in disguise

We all start blogging for different reasons. Documenting a journey, venting emotions, dealing with stress or tragedy, finding some creative outlet, using up spare time, the list goes on and on. What no one tells you when you start blogging,though, is that at the end of the day, the part that you will cherish the most is the connections you will make. The people you will cross roads with.

I know many will argue that the virtual world is no place to “meet” or “get to know” anyone but if you have tried blogging for a while you will know that there is a precious connection that you can share with your readers, fellow bloggers and people you meet on this journey. A connection you can only feel with people who share your passion, who understand the spark of madness that is in every creative soul.

Through the past two years of blogging I have come across many people. Some made me smile, some made me furious,others made me think, and then there were those who opened up new worlds to me and made my life richer. Yet, the ones I cherish the most are the ones who inspired me.

Today I am trying to  write a farewell to one of them.

Lisa Cifelli (or as we affectionately called her Lis), one of the founders of the daring kitchen and the person many of us consider the life of the daring kitchen. Lis passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday.I am still trying to get past the shock of it.Lis was the life force behind the daring kitchen. A group that I love dearly. She brought together amazingly talented and creative bloggers and created an atmosphere that is supportive, inspiring , challenging yet friendly. I fondly remember that the first thing I did when I started this blog was apply to the daring kitchen!I waited anxiously for the reply and jumped with joy when I was accepted. Going into the member forums for the first time made me feel like a kid  on an adventure! I have learned so much from the daring kitchen, I met some of the most creative and wonderful bloggers I know, I faced challenges I would have never attempted on my own, I grew as a blogger and as a person and all of that would not have been possible without Lis.

Lis wrote a little intro for every challenge. She had a wonderful sense of  humor and a passion for life that really shines through her words. You can’t help but smile when you read her words and month after month I found myself looking forward to her playful intros. I came to know Lis a little closer , when I hosted the homemade cheese challenge. Even through emails, her big heart, gentle spirit and devotion were touching to say the least. 

I have written and rewritten this post for 4 days and  yet every time I feel like my words don’t do her justice. She was one of those people who manage to touch your heart even after the shortest encounter.The news of her sudden and unexpected death brought me to tears. Maybe it is true that I have never met Lis face to face yet I feel a deep loss at her passing. Lis inspired everyone each and every month to rise to the challenge, to believe in themselves , to do their best, laugh at the mistakes, learn from them and to get up after every fall. Those lessons transcend far beyond the kitchen.

Lis, thank you for every lesson and every smile. For the inspiration and the challenge. For being one of those people that make life richer for everyone around them.

You will be deeply missed.


The last challenge that Lis introduced was this November’s Daring cooks challenge.

 Our November Daring Cooks’ hostess was Begoña, who writes the beautiful blog, Las recetas de Marichu y las mías. Begoña is from Spain and didn’t want to go with the more common challenges of paella or gazpacho, she wanted to share with us another very popular recipe from Spain that we don’t see as often called Sopa Castellana which is a delicious bread soup!

Sopa Castellana or the soup from Castilla, is a bread soup based on a strongly flavored stock. There are many  variations of this soup in which you can add all kinds of vegetables, meat, spices, herbs, dried fruits and even poached eggs.
I chose to go the simple route this month. I made the tomato soup form Extremadura. I really loved the soup, the flavors were simple , clean and comforting in the autumn cold

Chef in disguise: tomatoes

I stuck to the challenge recipe with a few exceptions. I used red peppers only because that is what I had on hand. I roasted the peppers to add a smoky flavor to the soup. I chopped half the tomatoes and pureed the other half to vary the texture.My last modification was that I toasted the bread in a pan with some butter, garlic and parsley to add more flavor to it.

Thank you Begona for the wonderful challenge.

Spanish tomato soup

Tomato Soup from Extremadura

Servings: 4

1 kg mature tomatoes
1 baguette (French bread)
2 red pepper (roasted and peeled)
1 onion
3 garlic cloves

1 and 1/2 liters (6 cups) of meat/chicken/vegetables stock

4 large eggs (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil


Peel and chop half of the tomatoes, reserve

Puree the other half of the tomatoes, reserve.

Cut onion and peppers (capsicums) in small pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a  pan, and saute the onion for 4-5 minutes

Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes

Add chopped peppers (capsicums),and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 more minutes.

Add the pureed tomatoes, vegetable stock and cook the soup for 10- 15 minutes for the flavors to blend

When you are ready to serve poach the eggs (you can find a tutorial on how to poach eggs perfectly here)

Toast sliced bread.

Place 2 slices of bread in each plate

top with soup and the poached egg

Place some garlic parsley toasted bread on top


tomato soup with poached eggs

To make the garlic parsley toasted bread

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan

Add 1-2 cloves of garlic chopped and stir until you can smell the garlic

Add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped parsley and stir for a minute

Add the bread that you have cut into cubes and stir until the bread is toasty and golden brown

About these ads
Leave a comment


  1. Oh dear, what a lovely tribute, Sawsan, I’m very sorry that I didn’t know her. I’m sure her family will take some comfort in how many lives she touched and how fond and dear she was to you.
    I’m not a big caraway fan, haven’t been since childhood but I do love Anise! I’m making an Indian dinner this weekend for friends and may have to drop by for the dessert recipe.
    PS we were away and I was trying to comment with my iPhone and may have done so already but it wasn’t clear, crashing often. So if there is a duplicate comment, feel free to delete one and keep the one you like the best!

  2. I read many tributes to Lis, and my heart sank a little with each one. I used to follow her blog, La Mia Cucina, years before I had my own site, and when I had no idea I would become a food blogger down the road. We used to exchange emails and she helped me with a lot of advice and encouragement when I started blogging. I never joined the Daring Bakers because I did not feel up to the challenge on many levels, photography being one, cooking complicated things being another. But I followed the postings, and can imagine Lis being the flame behind it all. She was so witty, her sense of humor unique…

    Loved to read your tribute, it is clearly coming from deep inside your soul

  3. A beautiful tribute to Lis, Sawsan. I know I had a hard time writing my own.

  4. mjskit

     /  November 19, 2013

    I can tell that this was a very hard post for you to write Sawson. I’m so sorry for the loss of Lis. I didn’t really know her virtually, but definitely knew of her. You’ve created a beautiful tribute to her. A Lovely, Lovely post in so many ways!

  5. Sawsan. I am so very sorry for this deeply felt loss. I did not know Lis, but she sounds like she was such a warm and genuine person who brought a lot of happiness to many people. My thoughts and prayers will go out to her family and friends. It is always so terribly tragic to lose someone with no warning or chance to say good-bye. I am thinking of you and appreciating your tribute to her.

  6. The news about Lis was incredibly sad for all her blogging friends.

    She would have loved your soup – it looks amazing and your photographs have done her proud!

  7. Hi Sawsan, That is terrible news about your friend – my condolences to you and all the daring bakers.

  8. Beautifully said, Sawsan.

    We are all really going to miss her, aren’t we?

  9. How very sad, it’s true that we can form very special and different friendships through the words of our blogs, comments we make and receive. A beautiful recipe and a beautiful tribute.

  10. Thank you for a beautiful post. And a lovely soup. I agree, blogging is a great way to open your mind and broaden your experiences. Unknown people may make a big impact on you. I’ll make this soup in honour of all great inspiring people out there.

  11. aishazd

     /  November 18, 2013

    Your soup looks delicous!!

  12. G’day Sawsan and know also how difficult this tribute was for you to write, true!
    Lis was an extraordinary person who touched us worldwide in the most remarkable way!
    Your Tomato Soup from Extremadura and photo (as always) look wonderful!!
    HUGS!!! So glad through the Daring Kitchen, I also met you!
    Cheers! Joanne

  13. Thank you for your lovely post, I’m so sorry to read about your loss. You’re absolutely right about the reasons we start our blogs and the people we meet, it becomes all so precious. My thoughts are with you.

  14. Hi Sawsan,
    yes sometimes one can “click” with a person whom we might never have met, just because you are on the same wave length, in this case I think, a love for food.
    I am so sorry to read that you have lost a Blogger friend but I do hope Lis’s memory will continue to inspire you to continue Blogging and cooking,
    Regards, Mrs Singh

  15. OMG…that’s so sad!! Heartbreaking….she was so young too :( RIP Lisa….I love reading about the daring bakers, a peek into a world one day I hope to venture in…..

  16. Tomato soup’s colour has never been so vivid, wonderful job my friend :D


  17. This is a beautiful soup, Sawsan, and a lovely tribute to your fallen friend.

  18. Sawsan,
    Your words are true – blogging does allow us to all share our passions and create meaningful connections with others.
    I am so sorry to hear about your friend, Lis. Your writing is beautiful and poetic – it conveys your deep care and appreciation for her life, and the overwhelming sadness that you are experiencing. My sincerest, more heartfelt condolences.
    As the for the recipe, it is sunny, bright and oh-so-Spanish. I enjoy the food and people of Extremadura. I am very much looking forward to making this for my family. The runny, scrumptious poached egg really makes the dish. I will reference your excellent instructions on proper method:
    Thank you for sharing your recipe challenge – and the touching story of your dear friend. You are in my warmest thought.
    Best wishes,

  19. a woman called Sam .

     /  November 18, 2013

    So sorry for your loss.

    I live 30 miles from a store. What do you think about using canned tomatoes in this recipe?

    Sent from my iPhone Best, Sam


  20. I am so sorry for your loss, Sawsan. This was a very nice post about your friend, I am sure she will be missed by many.


Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: