Who doesn’t love a bowl of hearty soup? My Aunt Beth turned me on to this soup years ago, and I find myself making it about once a year, and always around this time of year. Let’s face it, it’s cold in Wisconsin, and when…
Month: January 2010
This past week, I was given a task to pickup a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for my son. The goal was to bring the soup into school and have the fourth grade students attempt to try different soups. I have to admit, I am not one to buy soup out of can anymore, and I cannot remember the last time I did! Well, I should not say it that way as I have actually bought condensed soup for my cheesy potatoes recipe. So, I sat there in aisle four of the grocery store, looking at all of the different types of soup. There were so many to choose from, but one caught my eye, and that was tomato soup.
I recall that it was not one of my favorite soups growing up as a kid, but as I grew older, I really loved the flavors of it. Not in a can, but the homemade type. So when I came home and delivered the can of soup to my son, I asked my wife if she liked tomato soup. She said that she does not even think that she has ever tried tomato soup in here life. What?! Well, seeing that I have yet to use my immersion blender that I received at Christmas time, this left me with the perfect opportunity to make a batch of really delicious tomato soup. A soup that pairs ever so nicely with a really great grilled cheese sandwich.
Let’s get started.
- 1 head of garlic, skin removed, lightly smashed
- 1 lb of good, organic tomatoes, on the vine
- 2 Roma tomatoes, cored
- 1 tsp of salt (more for tasting)
- 1 tsp black pepper (more for tasting)
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 small rib of celery diced
- 2 small onions, halved
- 1 tbsp of unsalted butter
- pinch of sugar
- dash of balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tbsp for saute
- heavy cream (optional)
- 1 tbsp of dried basil
Begin by heating your oven to 450 degrees. Add your onions, tomatoes, and garlic to a sheet tray, and drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables. Season the top with salt and pepper, and cook in the oven for nearly 30 minutes, or until you get some really nice colors out of the vegetables.
Next, get a soup pot out, and add in the two tablespoons of olive oil. Bring to a medium-high heat, and toss in the carrots, and celery. Let this cook for about 8 minutes or so, just until tender. Next, slide in the roasted vegetables and give it a good stir. Add in your sugar, basil, and the splash of balsamic vinegar. Stir, and let this cook for a few minutes. Add in the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Now if you have an immersion blender (by the way, I love this thing), use it now to puree down the mixture. Make it as thin as you would want your soup, or in batches, add it to your blender, being careful to use a towel over the top cap due to the pressure from the hot soup. Once pureed, taste, and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
Reduce the heat, and ladle into your favorite soup bowl. I like to use my ramekins because they are a great serving size, and are a nice presentation. Drizzle with a bit of cream, and sprinkle with basil. You now have homemade tomato soup in your bowls, in less than 30 minutes. And trust me, it is a heck of a lot better than canned soup. Enjoy!
Ever since I made a beef wellington for family and friends at Thanksgiving, I have been a major fan of making duxelles. Duxelles is a french term for basically rendering down a bunch of finely diced mushrooms into somewhat of a paste. If you have never made duxelles, it is a must. There is an aroma and a flavor that is out of this world. These take a bit of time to make due to the fine dicing of a lot of mushrooms, but it is well worth the effort. My most recent visit to the grocery store yielded some very nice cremini mushrooms (baby portabella) that were on sale, and I immediately thought of makes the duxelle. The mushrooms work really well as a stuffing, and hence why I used them in the beef wellington, however I have also tucked spread them under the skin of cornish hens, which was also amazing.
So this week has been rather hectic and quite stressful at work, and I wanted something comforting to make to help reduce the stress, while at the same time having a nice, presentable meal that both my wife and I could enjoy. I came up with the duxelles and craisin stuffed chicken breast. I made the duxelle the night before as I thought that chopping and dicing down a bunch of mushrooms would lift the spirit, and it did. This saved me some time as I could quickly pound out some chicken breasts, stuff them, and brown them in a saute pan. This is a really great weekday meal, that is somewhat fancy, but can be served in no time at all.
- 1/2 lb of cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, and finely chopped or placed in a food processor (stems and all)
- 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced
- generous pinch of salt
- generous pinch of pepper
- 1/4 cup of sherry wine
- pinch of dried thyme
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup of craisins
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1/4 cup of heavy cream
Begin by getting a large saute pan out and bring it to a medium, to medium high heat. Add in the butter, and let it melt. Add in the chopped mushrooms, shallot, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring on occasion. After about 10 minutes or so, add in the sherry, and cook until the sherry evaporates. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
To a small skillet, add about 1 cup of water and bring it to a light boil. Add in the dried craisins, and remove it from the heat. Let them hydrate for a few minutes before removing them with a slotted spoon. Add them to the duxelles, and stir.
Now the fun part. Get a large ziplock bag out. You have a couple of options here. You can take a chicken breast and slice through it horizontally, yielding two pieces, or you can take your knife, and open it up a bit. I cut mine, horizontally, yielding two pieces. Place one piece in the ziplock bag, and lay it flat in there. Take your meat mallet, and pound it lightly, from the center outwards, being careful not to go too thin. You simply want to get it to about a quarter inch thick, just to tenderize it. Repeat with the remaining breasts.
Now that you have all of the breasts flattened out, take one and add a heaping spoonful near the back of the breast. The goal is to roll these up into a log shape, sealing in the sides, and then take two or three toothpicks to secure the chicken from unfolding. Repeat the process.
Next get your your large saute pan out, or in my case, I used a large cast iron skillet. Add the oil, and bring this to a medium heat. Add in the secured chicken rolls and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown. This will take about 10-12 minutes as the chicken is pretty thin from being pounded out.
Remove them from the skillet and set on a plate to let it rest for a couple of minutes. During this time, get the skillet back on the stove on medium heat. Add in the white wine (careful as it might flame up), stirring the bottom to remove any of those great chicken bits, then stir in the cream. Turn off the heat. Remove the toothpicks from the chicken, and with a sharp knife, cut them into bite sized pieces for presentation. Plate, and drizzle the pan sauce over the chicken, and on the plate for a nice design.
This one is super easy, and allows you to try something new. Enjoy!