Monday, March 29, 2010

#54 Gascony-Style Tomato Soup

Gascony-Style Tomato Soup

I based this soup on Joanne Harris’s recipe in The French Kitchen cookbook.

I have to admit that French is my favourite style of cooking, despite the fact that this cuisine is falling out of fashion lately. I just love the way people in France treat their food: the time they spend thinking about it, cooking and then eating it; the lengths they’ll go to find the best ingredients, the way they treat them, the way they respect every single product and manage to get the best out of it through using special and sometimes rather complicated techniques.

Reading this recipe, acknowledging the different ways the modest tomato is treated and cared for, I believed this soup had to be wonderful. That’s why I decided it deserves its place in our collection here and gave it a try. I had so much expectation... Unfortunately, it didn’t turn the way I’d hoped. It was quite sour, it didn’t have the nice, full bodied flavour that I expected and the tomato skins were utterly unpleasant. I know you will be concerned about the amounts of garlic, but I will assure you straight away – it was not a problem, quite the opposite.

I still believe there is something to look for in this recipe and I’ll try it again. But I have a major lesson learned: Unless you live in a Southern country with nice, warm summer and/or have access to good, well ripened tomatoes – use tinned!

To serve 3

200 g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 whole garlic bulbs, cut in half crossways
4 tbsp olive oil
150 g oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
50 ml red wine
1 small bay leaf
a pinch of dried rosemary
600 ml beef stock
chopped parsley, to garnish

Put the cherry tomatoes and garlic bulbs in a tray together with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and stir well. Season with some salt, and roast on 150C for one hour. Remove and when cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic out of its skin.
In the meantime, heat the rest of the olive oil and sauté the onion for 5 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook on high heat for another 2 minutes.
Add the red wine, bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the herbs, tomatoes and garlic, stir for a few seconds.
Add the stock and simmer gently for about an hour.
Take the mushrooms out and keep them on a plate.
Transfer the rest of the soup into a blender and liquidise until smooth.
Reheat gently, serve in individual bowls and decorate with the mushrooms and parsley.

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