Tomato Bisque

D&D_1907It is funny, or maybe just odd, that I do not like raw tomatoes, only cooked ones. Tomato sauce, yes, tomato bisque – absolutely. Sliced tomato on something – I’ll pass. Tomato bisque is a soup weakness for me. Another odd thing, I only like vegetarian soups. Not sure why that is, but it is a thing for me. I think it because when there is a protein in a soup, it is likely to get over cooked – at least to my taste. I might also be that I just prefer to make vegetarian soups – in this instance meat just seems to get in the way.

Growing up I do not remember a lot of homemade soups with the exception of homemade vegetable soup which I was never a huge fan of – my mom would put all kinds of veg in that I just didn’t care for – yes, lima beans. But if we had any tomato soup it was from a can. That’s not terrible, but making decent tomato soup is so easy and takes less than an hour, I just don’t see any reason not to make it from scratch especially when you have most of the things on hand to start with.

This is a cream soup, but to my mind it is a bisque but I realized that I really had never looked up the definition of a bisque. So here it is. Not what I was expecting to be honest.

Bisque – A thick rich soup usually consisting of puréed seafood (sometimes fowl or vegetables) and cream. p.57 Food Lover’s Companion 

Adapted from this Creamy Tomato Soup recipe in Bon Appetit via alexandracooks.com and modified by me, because I am, after all, me. Yep, that is what I do.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 sprigs thyme
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
¼ cup (or more) heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely grate Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chicago Italian bread

Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic and add salt to help soften everything. Cook until onion is completely soft. Add tomato paste and increase heat to medium and cook until pasta starts to darken in color and you can smell it.

Add tomatoes with juices from the can – you can crush the tomatoes with your hands or with a potato masher – and 4 cups water to the pot. Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces, 45 minutes or so. Remove soup from heat; discard thyme sprigs. Purée soup with an immersion blender.

Reduce heat to low and stir in ¼ cup cream – let simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed – salt, freshly cracked black pepper, more cream. Simmer 10 more minutes and taste again.

I think this time I am going to make little cheese toasts with Parmigiano Reggiano on sliced Chicago Italian and add a little swirl of 14 year old sherry vinegar.

8 June 2017

Tomato Soup with spinach and mozzarella 

It is finally getting soup weather around here, after a very warm Christmas. This is a new recipe to me, but I love tomato bisque. And to me this qualifies – because you blend everything up with an immersion blender. One of my favorite tools that I got for like $15 at an Ace Hardware in Chapel Hill — how strange is that? Yep kind of strange for sure, but I do get a good bit of use out of it.D&D_1140

1 – 28 ozs can whole San Marzano tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbs olive oil
8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 ribs of celery, peeled and diced
1 large shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bay leaf, from Turkey if possible, just saying
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic vinegar

In a stock pot (or just a big pot), heat olive oil, add the chopped shallots and celery, sauté until translucent. Add sun-dried tomatoes and bay leaf and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes. With the pan moderately hot add just a bit of water, a Tbs or so, and steam the vegetables with the lid on the pot for a minute or two. Then add garlic and sauté until soft – do not let garlic get too far past barely golden. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano, and sauté a minute more. Maybe a smidgen of tomato paste here would not go amiss. Just let it get some caramelization. Always a good thing.

Add the tomatoes, and crush with spoon or spatula. Cook down for a few minutes on medium.  Add vegetable stock and cook for a few minutes more. Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or more if you have more time – which you will have if you are simultaneous baking cookies. Remove bay leaf – key point. Purée with an immersion blender. Add 2 – 3 tsp balsamic vinegar, stir in and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. At this point you can refrigerate the soup for later. For me, tomato soup is like spaghetti sauce, it is always better after a couple of days. Make it on a Sunday, eat it on a Tuesday – yeah – not having to cook after work – woo hoo!

Toppings, etc

3 cups fresh spinach, washed, and dried
1 small shallot, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar*
Fresh mozzarella cut into small pieces

Sauté shallots and garlic in a Tbs of olive oil. Add spinach and toss to wilt. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Add the spinach mix and mozzarella to the soup.

There will be a next time for my modified version of this recipe because for the soup, this is all pantry food – one of my favorite things – make dinner out of something I have just sitting around. My previous favorite tomato soup was good, but I had to get tomato juice – which I NEVER have on hand. This seems to fix that issue.

* I think next time I will make a balsamic vinegar syrup. I have had this on soups in one of my favorite restaurants (yes, that’s you Jaco’s) and I’ve seen that is dead simple to make. But in this case I think it will lend a depth to the soup.

I won’t rant about Jaco’s too much, but if your restaurant can make excellent soup – which Jaco’s does – and that means you’ve gotten certain things right. I do need to tell you all more about this place. It is excellent.
Original source: yes-more please.com/2014/03/caprese-tomato-spinach-soup/ – Although I did make  a few modifications – that seems to be a recurring theme.

Roasted Roma Tomatoes with garlic, Gorgonzola, and bread crumbs

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Roasted Roma Tomatoes w/bleu cheese & garlic

Another no recipe recipe …

Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Fresh Garlic, minced
Kosher salt+
Freshly ground black pepper
Plain bread crumbs*
Gorgonzola, crumbled

Okay with this recipe you have to base it on ratios. But the methodology is solid. Roma tomatoes work because they are solid tomatoes that hold up under the heat and get better and sweeter as they roast.

So slice the tomatoes and use a grapefruit spoon to get rid of the insides and especially the seeds. Put them cut side down of several pieces of paper towels to drain for at least 5 minutes.

Put tomatoes in a bowl large enough to hold them. Add enough olive oil to coat. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add minced garlic, enough that it makes sense for the number of tomatoes but understand that garlic is a key part of this recipe. Stir everything together until the tomatoes are coated and let marinate for as long as it makes sense.^

In another bowl mix together Gorgonzola and bread crumbs.£ Place marinated tomatoes, cut side up, on lined baking sheet. Fill with Gorgonzola bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake (or should it be roast?) for 20 – 25 minutes until tomatoes are softened and topping is lightly browned.

If you want, top with chopped herbs, parsley is a good idea. I think the best idea.

+I have used my homemade lemon Rosemary Maldon salt for this and it is, in a word, amazing.

*At work we use a lot of catering from Panera and they always bring baguettes with each order. I typically take one home if no one else wants it and have two things I do – make croutons with herbs fine and make plain breadcrumbs. So these are my homemade breadcrumbs.

^For me it takes at least an hour, but I have let them sit overnight too. Works well either way.

£ Figure out, based on ratios how much Gorgonzola you think will work, you can always add more and add just enough breadcrumbs to make the cheese sandy – that makes sense to me but to explain, enough bread crumbs to barely coat the Gorgonzola cheese.

This is one of the last things that my beloved father-in-law had that I made. He asked for seconds and well, even now, that is difficult and it has been several years but it still makes me happy. He was a second father to me and I am glad that I was able to make him happy.

25 May 2009 – Memorial Day. vvg w W/J – Used just enough bread crumbs to make Bleu cheese sandy
20 June 2009 – added a couple Tbs of cream cheese – just because there were fresh local Roma tomatoes
4 July 2009 – @ W/J w/D et al
23 June 2012 – vg
4 October 2015

Sweet Tomato Chutney

 Sweet Tomato Chutney
  • 1 whole head garlic, peeled & chopped

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    Sweet Tomato Chutney w/Cream Cheese and Crackers

  • One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger (1 inch by 1 inch), peeled and chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds fresh skinned tomatoes (or 1 pound and 12 ounces canned whole tomatoes)
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 2 Tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons blanched slivered almonds

Put the garlic, ginger and 1/2 cup of vinegar in the food processor and process until smooth. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, place the tomatoes (and juice from the can if using canned tomatoes) and the rest of the vinegar, sugar, salt, cayenne. Bring to a boil. Add the puree from the food processor and simmer uncovered for about 2 to 3 hours until it thickens and a film clings to a spoon when dipped. Stir occasionally at first and more frequently later as it thickens. You may need to lower the heat as the liquid diminishes. Add almonds and raisins. Simmer, stirring another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool. It should be as thick as honey. Bottle in clean containers, and refrigerate. Must be kept in the refrigerator. Good indefinitely. Makes about 2 cups.

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Sweet Tomato Chutney

This is great served with cream cheese and crackers.

Source: Llewellyn Lodge, Lexington, Virginia

This is truly one of my favorite things to make any time of year. I serve it with cream cheese, as above, but also serve it with sharp cheddar cheese. I don’t tend to use the almonds with mine, but I expect they would be a nice touch.

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 pound 85% ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garlic powder  (used real garlic, 3 small cloves, minced)
  • 2 1/2 cups dry pasta
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • fresh parsley, minced
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Cheeseburger Pasta

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat and add hamburger. Break into chunks with spoon and cook, for about five minutes. Add onion and cook for another five minutes or until hamburger is cooked through and onion is softened. Add broth, water, ketchup, tomato paste, garlic powder and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add pasta and bring to boil then reduce to simmer (I covered with a lid)  and cook for about 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente and liquid was reduced.

Meanwhile, melt butter in another pan over medium high heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 – 2 minutes or until flour is cooked through. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Cook until sauce begins to thicken, about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.

Add cheese sauce to hamburger mixture and stir combine. Garnish with parsley and serve.

7 January 2015 – used real garlic and added at the end of cooking the beef and onions. Used the America’s Test Kitchen trick when I added the tomato paste first and let it sauté for a couple of minutes to bring out the umami (cool, I think I spelled that correctly – but maybe not). Then added all the liquids. Was a different way for me to cook pasta.

I did put a lid on the pot because I was concerned the pasta (fusilli – DeCecco) would not cook to al dente before the liquid evaporated – glad I did. Very flavorful. Made my usual béchamel (you just eye-ball it really, but the ratio of butter to flour was correct in this recipe) with cheddar then added – just like for my Mom’s mac n cheese. Was a little concerned it would be too cheesy for the Man of the House, but it just ended up being really creamy and SR enjoyed it – that made me happy. Hope the Boy likes it too – think he will.

My Mom made a elbow macaroni thing growing up, but this was not it. Although, I think if she had seen this, she would have jumped on it. Simple – really only two pots and she made béchamel on a regular basis, so a no brainer really.

I did made the ground beef, onion, garlic bit a couple of days ago and finished it tonight. I like meals, crackers, cookies, etc. that you can do over a few days. Makes it easier.

Think Know it will even better tomorrow.
Originally from FoodieCrush