Monday, August 16, 2010

Tomato-Basil Bisque Soup:combatting the restaurants

So often the soup du jour at nice restaurants these days, at least the ones my wife and I frequent, is tomato-basil bisque. Sometimes it seems like their routine main dish rather than the alleged soup special of the day.

The soup sounds fresh and wonderful. And it can be. But it's becoming a bore. And it's too easy to make (if you have a food processor) and makes money too easily for the restaurant.

So my motivation for this blog posting is to show how simple and inexpensive this soup is to make, and maybe (I flatter myself and my readership) encourage good restaurant chefs to create something new for a change -- or even recreate something classical -- for a special soup of the day.

By the way, for my Athens readers, the tomato bisque we serve occasionally at our restaurant, and which is popular, is somewhat different. That's in case you thought I might be giving away our secret.

The recipe serves four, and costs under three dollars to make.

Tomato-Basil Bisque

1 small-medium carrot
1 small onion
1/4 of a large stick of celery
1/2 small red bell pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, Hunts or Kroger brand
1 1/2 cup water (rinse tomato can into soup with it)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 generous sprinkles black pepper
8 medium-large leaves fresh basil, finely shredded
1/2 cup whipping cream

Rinse and trim carrot, but do not peel. Cut it in chunks and put it in food processor. Add onion, peeled and chunked, celery, cut in chunks, and bell pepper, seeded and chunked. Process very finely, scraping down the sides of the processor several times.

In soup pot, fry carrot-onion mixture slowly in olive oil, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender, but have not started to turn golden.

Add tomatoes, water, and seasonings other than basil. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered and stirring frequently, only 3 minutes (so tomato retains fresh taste).

Stir in shredded basil. Simmer 30 seconds. Add cream, and stir 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

After a few minutes, stir again, taste, and add salt if needed.

Serve now, or chill then rewarm quickly.

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