It’s also a universal truth known round my kitchen that if I am preparing two items at once – one complicated and one simple, the simpler item will be better than the more complicated one. But more on that later…
I full intended to prepare a vegetarian version of my grapefruit, avocado, Edamame quinoa salad last night, but around 3:00 pm yesterday afternoon things started to get a little dicey. My throat began doing that itchy thing it does when I’m getting sick, and all I could think about was how much I wanted a bowl of the heirloom tomato bisque that I enjoyed for lunch at the Gallery Cafe in Pebble Beach while I was working at the Concours D’Elegance car show. Of course, since said soup was all the way in NorCal and I was all the way in smoggy SoCal, I would have to settle for my own version. Waaah waaah.
After a brief consultation with Cathy, the Gastronomer, and my mom, who was fairly useless since she has never made tomato soup from scratch and didn’t know how many tomatoes I would need to prepare it (last night’s version required 2 ½), I made a quick stop at Whole Foods on my way home from work. I collected all my ingredients for the soup, plus some goat cheese and zucchini to make a quick roasted veggie and grilled cheese sandwich. And then I got to work.
I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, but I tackled the job with the ill-conceived confidence I use when I’m pretending that I belong at those trendy Hollywood bars I never go to. (I prefer lounges, wine bars and wearing clothes that cover all my bits.)
The procedure went something like this…
Throw a carrot in there?
Keep the soup chunky rather than straining out the tomato skins?
Add a little balsamic vinegar?
Plop! In she goes!
The end result certainly looked like tomato soup, but unfortunately it didn’t even come close to the Gallery’s version that I am guessing benefitted from some serious strainage and a more liberal use of cream (my paltry 2 tablespoons of half & half were probably not cutting it).
While my grilled sandwich was an unequivocal success (because, as I mentioned, it was super easy to make and went together in less than ten minutes), the soup was super sweet and lacked the velvety consistency my sore-ish throat was craving. I did notice that the creamy goat cheese in my sandwich helped balance out the sweet bite of the soup, so I decided to pull a Tim Gunn on my concoction and “make it work” with a little improvisation…
I returned to the kitchen, got my goat cheese out of the fridge and added a fatty dollop to my soup. It certainly helped matters, but this soup is a long way from being ready-to-wear.
I will get there some day (because I’m a neurotic perfectionist and won’t be able to rest until I do), but until that day comes, I’ll be eating a heck of a lot of grilled goat cheese sandwiches.
Sort-of Heirloom Tomato Soup
¾ lb heirloom tomatoes
1/3 carrot, chopped
1/3 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons half & half
Dollop of goat cheese
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Basil, for garnish
Sauté onions, carrots and garlic with olive oil, salt, pepper in a medium-sized pot. When onions are translucent, add chicken broth, reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender.
Meanwhile, slice tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until they’ve begun to break down. Add to the soup and simmer together approximately 10-15 minutes. Use an immersion blender or blender to puree soup to desired consistency.
Return to the heat and add balsamic vinegar, half & half and goat cheese. Reheat to desired warmth and then serve. Top with optional basil.
Roasted Veggie Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 shallot, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
¼ red pepper, sliced
Roast shallots, zucchini and red pepper in oven at 375 until tender. May need to start shallots and red pepper first and then add the zucchini as it takes less time.
Top one slice of bread with veggies, and then dot the top with goat cheese. Cover with the other slice of bread and return to the oven. Bake until bread is toasty and cheese is gooey. Slice in half and eat with soup.