Posts Tagged ‘Soup’

Running Hot and Cold – Summertime Bread Soup with Pesto

Things are really heating up around here, in more ways than one. First and foremost I want to give a big shout out to my fabulous mother who has been working hard to help P4P (penchant for produce) gain some more exposure. And she has done so with great success – the blog hits are certainly coming on more heavily and I am excited to have new readers. To all of the newcomers out there, thank you very much for taking the time to peruse my blog. I hope you come back and visit often and am looking forward to hearing your questions, comments, and suggestions! You are what makes writing this blog exciting!

But as I mentioned earlier, its been getting hot hot hot. The South has been experiencing a major heatwave and temperatures in my new home state of Tennessee have been in the high 90s and low 100s for the last few days. Unlike the Northeast summers of my childhood, where mornings would start cool and temperatures would rise gradually and peak in the afternoon cresting and then falling as the cool moved back in for the evening, the heat here in the American South is hard hitting and unrelenting. When I left the Yoga studio yesterday at 7AM it was already 87 degrees and the evening temperatures are not much better. And in times like these, when the sun will not relent, the folks down here do what they have always done to beat the heat: they wear wide brimmed hats, they eat Popsicles and drink ice cold beer, and, whenever possible, they stay indoors and crank up the AC.

Since arriving, I have felt as though I have been living in two entirely different climates. On one end of the spectrum there is the hot, humid and sunny outdoor climate, which I inhabit only briefly and in short spurts as I dash from indoor location to indoor location. On the opposite end is the cool, dry, and shaded indoor world where I spend most of my time. But the problem is that some places, (mostly restaurants, malls, and grocery stores) are downright cold! And while I am becoming more vigilant about bringing a sweater with me when we go out for dinner, when I walk into a meat locker like establishment from the outrageous heat outside I find myself searching the menu for something to warm up my once burning and now freezing arms and legs.

And this brings me to today’s post, a very comforting and surprisingly summery bread soup, inspired by yet another Ottolenghi recipe. This soup is entirely vegetarian and can even be made vegan by simply substituting olive oil for the butter I use to sautee the onions and fennel. The fennel is what makes this soup truly special, its slightly sweet and anisey flavor bring a great deal of freshness to the soup.

Be patient when sauteing the onions with the fennel, keep the heat fairly low (med or so) and don’t stir them too often. After 10 minutes the veggies should begin to caramelize. This light caramelization is possibly the most integral component in the soup as the sweet onions and fennel mellow the acidity of the otherwise dominant tomatoes. The recipe calls for a dollop of pesto which tops off the soup and gives it a great dose of fresh herby flavor. While I love Trader Joes I am not a huge fan of their pesto, I prefer the brighter flavors of a refrigerator pesto to a canned one for this dish – I have used the one from Costco with great success (it freezes well as well. Whole foods carries great pestos as well.

Summertime Bread Soup with Pesto

3 TBSP Butter
1 ½ Onions Sliced
1 Large Bulb of Fennel Sliced
4 Cloves Garlic Minced
3 Large Carrots, Peeled, Cut Lengthwise in Half and Sliced
3 Stalks of Celery Sliced
1 TBSP Tomato Paste
1 ½ Cup White Wine
1 28-Ounce Can Plum Tomatoes with Their Juice
1 TBSP Chopped Oregano
1 TBSP Chopped Fennel Fronds
1 TBSP Chopped Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
2 TSP Sugar
6 Cups Vegetable Stock Reduced
3 Large Slices Stale Italian Bread Well toasted and Cut into Small Cubes
2 Cans Chickpeas, Rinsed Well

In a large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Add Onion, Fennel, and two small pinches of salt and sautee for 10 minutes or until fennel and onion turn golden and begin to caremelize. Add garlic, celery, and carrots and sautee 4 mins more.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional minute, stirring. Add wine and bring to a boil. After boiling for a minute or so add the tomatoes, herbs, sugar, and broth and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering place the chickpeas in a small bowl and lightly mash them with a potato masher. Some should remain whole while others will eventually melt into the soup.

When the soup has finished simmering taste and add salt and freshly cracked pepper as needed. Remember when adding salt that the dollop of pesto on top will add saltiness to the dish.

About 20 minutess before serving time add the chickpeas to the soup. Wait till about 5 minutes before to add the bread.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve topped with Pesto and a small sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Categories: Carrots, Celery, Soup, Tomato Tags: , , ,

A Sign of Good Things to Come – Shrimp and Corn Bisque

I have spent the last few weeks not looking forward to shlepping out to Salt Lake City for an American Payroll Association conference. Firstly because it was a conference entirely dedicated to all things payroll, and secondly because it was in a city I had heard precisely nothing good about – extreme religious conservatism, polygamy, watered down beer (gasp) – I braced myself for the worst. The conference itself was approximately what I had expected, all said it was a good work experience but I am not exactly sad to know they only hold one each year. When it comes to Salt Lake City – perhaps I set the bar a bit low, but the city completely blew away my expectations. The downtown area was pretty, wide streets speckled with interesting local restaurants and a nice outdoor mall, and to top it all off the view of the mountains that surrounded the city was breathtakingly beautiful. I had the fortune of visiting some of the cities eateries with my coworkers, I was shocked to find several good micro breweries featuring peak season produce, amazingly good seafood, and creative home grown beers. But a week out of the house left me longing for home, for my bed and soft sheets, the familiarity of my apartment, and astonishingly more than anything, I could not wait to get back into my tiny little kitchen.

Saturday morning I drove down to the little produce stand next to the gym to discover signs of summer’s bounty everywhere. Melons stacked in pyramids, several varieties of eggplant, jalapenos and basil galore lined the bins beneath the tent, towards the back I found what I was looking for – corn! While not quite the local jersey corn of my dreams these ears from further south were just what the doctor ordered, nice moist husks filled with fat yellow kernels that smelled refreshingly like, well, corn (the corn you get at the supermarkets in the winter is often missing this particular corn smell.)

Bon Appetit had run an article on Shrimp in its June 2011 edition which featured a recipe for Shrimp Bisque and I was determined to adapt it to make one of my all-time favorite, guilty pleasure restaurant foods – the Shrimp Corn Chowder Bertucci’s has been running as part of its daily soup rotation. This soup is velvety with a strong shrimp flavor which is heavily influenced by a hearty dose of homemade shrimp stock – peeling the shrimp may be a bit fussy but its well worth the effort. The early season sweet corn is excellent in this dish as its summer sweetness rounds out and balances the salty shellfish broth. Don’t bother to buy shrimp larger than a standard medium (around a 35 shrimp/lb count) as they will be partly chopped and partly pureed when they make their debut in the final dish. I love to top this dish with roasted Poblano peppers and cilantro for an extra kick and hint of freshness.

Shrimp Corn Bisque

2lbs Medium Count Shrimp (Shells On, Heads On If You Can Find Them) Peeled and Deveined – Heads and Tails Reserved
5 TBSP Unsalted Butter
6 Stalks Celery, 4 Chopped to 1/4″, 2 Chopped Into Thirds
4 Carrots Chopped to 1/4″ Rounds
1 Large Onion Diced
2 Cloves Garlic Minced
3 Bay Leaves, Divided
4 Sprigs Thyme
5 Stems Parsley
3 TBSP Tomato Paste
1/2 Cup Long Grain White Rice
1/2 Cup Scotch or Vodka
1/2 TSP Cayenne Pepper
4 Ears of Corn Shucked, and Cut From the Cob
1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Juice of 1 Lime
1/3 Cup Chopped Cilantro (plus additional for garnishing)
Roasted Poblano Peppers, Diced (optional)

Melt 1 TBSP Butter in a large stock pot over med-high heat. Sautee shrimp shells in butter, stirring frequently, until golden (about 4 mins) add 10 cups water, 2 bay leaves, and celery (the celery that you cut into thirds) bring to a low boil and reduce to simmer for about 25 mins or until broth is very fragrant and tastes shrimp-y, add salt and pepper to taste.

Place a fine strainer over a large bowl in the sink and strain solids from broth and set broth aside. Discard solids.

Rinse stock pot and place back on the stove over high heat. Add 1 TBSP Butter, add half the shrimp to the put and sautee until the center is just white. Remove shrimp from pot and space out on a place to cool. Add one more TBSP butter to the pot and repeat the process with the other half of the shrimp.

Reduce heat to medium and add onions, carrots, and celery and sautee until translucent, add garlic, remaining bay leaf, thyme and parsely and sautee for 3 mins more. Add tomato paste and rice and sautee for 3 mins. Remove pan from the heat and add liquor, place back on the stove and turn heat up to high and boil until the liquor has almost evaporated. Add stock back to pot, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 25 mins. In the meantime chop half of the shrimp into small, bite-sized pieces.

After 25 mins remove pot from the stove and puree the soup in a blender with cilantro, and the 1/2 of the shrimp you left whole. Return to the pot and add cayenne and cream. Add corn and simmer 5 mins. Add chopped shrimp and lime juice and taste for balance, add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve topped with cilantro and diced roasted poblano peppers.


Categories: Corn, Shrimp Tags: , , ,
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