Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tomato Bisque to Warm You Up!

Good morning!  I’m just sittin’ here……freezing my butt off.  It is cooooold here!  But we finally got a good amount of snow, which I keep hearing is a good thing.  I’m on the fence about that.  While I do like to have water to drink….I really don’t like to deal with snow.  So it boils down to me being inconvenienced versus dehydration.  I call it even.

This cold weather made me want soup!  It always does.  And I’ve been wanting to try a recipe that I got from my girlfriend, Janna.  She is a fantastic cook…..and she doesn’t mind that I steal her recipes;) 

I was at Janna’s house a couple of weeks ago, and she had made a yummy tomato bisque.  I, of course, loved it because it has heavy cream in it.  Anything that has cream in it is a winner in my book.  The great thing about this recipe though….you can leave out the cream and it is still crazy good.  But I would never leave the cream out.  That’s crazy talk.

Here is a little sneak peek…..

I will list all the ingredients that you need.  They didn’t all want to pose for a picture at the same time.  Divas.

Chicken Broth
Canned diced or chopped tomatoes
Flat leaf parsley
Bay leaves
Heavy cream
Black Pepper

Phew…..that seems like a lot, but this soup is easy and reheats well.  You could totally make it when you have the time and eat it at another time.

Let’s start this.

This bisque starts with bacon and butter.  Automatic winner.

You will only need one or two strips of bacon.  Freeze the rest.  Your family will thank you when you bust out the remaining bacon on a Saturday morning.

I chopped the bacon and cooked it up in the butter.  Once it was browned, I removed it with a slotted spoon.  I really just wanted the bacon fat….so you can do whatever you want with the cooked bacon.  It would be great as a garnish for the bisque, but unfortunately, I ate mine before the soup was done.  Oops.

So yeah, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and keep the fat in the pan.

These guys go in the pot next.

I threw these into the pot and sautéed them in the bacon fat butter combo for about 8 minutes.  And I didn’t actually throw them.  That could cause some serious grease burns on my pretty little face.

BTW-I also seasoned the veggies with salt and pepper.

The next three ingredients are flour, chicken broth and chopped tomatoes.  My package said “chopped”.  Yours might say “diced”.  Same/same.

I added the flour to the sautéed veggies.  This will make a roux to thicken the soup.  I stirred constantly for about 3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.

Then, I added the broth and tomatoes.  I whisked this until it boiled.  It is important to “whisk” as this point to avoid flour clumps.

Next step….some herbage.  Above is the parsley, bay leaves and thyme.  You can put the thyme in as is.  The leaves will fall off the stem, and you just pull the stem out later when you pull the bay leaves out.

I added the herbs to my boiling soup.  I lowered the heat and let this simmer for 30 minutes. 

Once the soup was cooked, and I had pulled out the bay and thyme stem, I went after it with my immersion blender.  I blended until smooth. 

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can let the soup cool a bit and use a regular blender. 

Hot soup will explode in your blender, so let it cool, and hold the top on with a kitchen towel.  Or let it rip and spend the next few hours cleaning soup off your ceiling.

To make the soup even smoother, as bisque should be….I pressed my soup through a sieve.  You will end up with a silky smooth bisque.

I returned the smooth soup to the pot and added the nectar of the gods….heavy cream.  The soup just needs to heat back up (and check for seasoning) and it is done!  But I have one final garnish for you…..

On my foil lined baking sheet, I dropped little mounds of parmesan cheese.  I flattened them a bit, and I baked this at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.

The parmesan cheese melts and becomes a little parmesan “crisp” that is perfect on soups and salads.  Or by themselves.  I accidentally ate about 5 before the soup was done.  Seriously, it was an accident.  They fell into my mouth.

This soup is so good!  It is smooth, creamy and it tastes really fresh because of the herbs.  And the parmesan melts in….Yum!!

See how smooth that is?  You must try this.  It is the perfect winter soup.  It warmed me up…..even after shoveling my driveway!

So now that you’ve read this….are you wishing you had an immersion blender?  Well you came to the right place!  I am giving one away to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is refer one friend (or more!) to my FB page.  They must “like” my page, and leave a comment telling me who sent them on over.  Not only does that get you an entry, your buddy will also get one too.

This immersion blender is way fancier then mine!  It has a whisk attachment and a chopper!  I will send it to the lucky winner!  This contest ends on Tuesday, March 13th.

Here is the recipe, straight from Janna:
Tomato Bisque
 1 strip bacon, chopped
 4 tablespoons butter
 2 carrots, chopped
 2 celery stalks, chopped
 1 yellow onion chopped
 5 cloves garlic, chopped
 7 tablespoons flour
 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
 28 oz. chopped canned tomatoes
 Sprig of thyme, sprig of parsley, 2 bay leaves
 1 cup heavy cream
 Salt and pep
Melt butter in large stockpot, in the butter-sauté bacon pieces for 2 minutes to render the fat. With slotted spoon, remove bacon and discard. On medium heat, Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and sauté for about 8 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly for 3 min. Add the broth and tomatoes and whisk constantly until it boils. Add parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Lower heat and simmer for 30 min. Remove from heat and let cool.

Once soup is cool, work in batches, transfer soup to blender and purée. Place a sieve over a large bowl and strain the purée into the bowl. Put soup back in pot and reheat. Once hot, remove from heat, whisk in cream and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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