Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tomatoes Get the Brandy Blues - Brandied Gorgonzola Tomato Soup

Don't you just hate it when someone goes to a restaurant and has something really awesome; then, when they are telling you about it, they just automatically ASSUME that since you cook a lot of different things, you will just magically know how to make it?   I mean come on!   Just because I talk like Alton Brown sometimes and have read The Joy Of Cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and The Silver Spoon from cover to cover like novels, does not mean that I am capable of mind melding with every chef on the planet and simply downloading selected information from their brains.  (Although THAT would be really really really cool)

Such was the story of my mother and her Blue Cheese/Brandy Tomato Soup that she consumed at the 42nd Street Cafe in Seaview, WA (which is just south of Longbeach, WA). 

Normally I make tomato soup with my slow cooked tomato sauce and some cream or half & half.  Pretty simple really.  So I started asking questions.  I mean, obviously it had Blue Cheese & Brandy in it, but that really doesn't help much... There are at least 10 Blue Cheeses that I can name and they all taste different.  So I started asking questions like.....

"Does it have cream in it?"  She didn't know.
"Is it chunky or smooth?"  She said it was smooth (OK, so it IS pureed)
"Did you taste Basil in it?"  She didn't remember.
"Was it Brandy or Cognac?"  She didn't know.
"Did they mention what Blue Cheese was in it?"  She said no.
"Did you ask them for the recipe?"  She didn't, because she was sure that I would be able to figure it out.

(sigh)  While I am deeply touched that she thinks that highly of my culinary skills, considering that we still argue about the deliciousness of polenta and the intrinsic food value of gnocchi (cause she hates both of them), I knew right off the bat that I was not going to be able to pass off my normal tomato soup by just adding some blue cheese and brandy to it.  Thus, I have been pondering this recipe for about 2 months now.

Enter Michael Symon.....

I was watching a rerun of CHEW, thanks to my SIL for pointing me at that show, and they were covering soups.  Michael was making this Blue Cheese/Sriracha Tomato Soup.

Brain Flash!
After the smoke cleared and the scent of of Ozone dissipated, I decided to use his soup as a base... OK, all I really did was substitute the Sriracha with Red Pepper Paste, change the Blue Cheese from Buttermilk Blue to Gorgonzola Dolce and finish the soup with some Brandy.  Oh, and I dropped the Oregano...  I thought Dill would work better with my changes.

Bingo!!  It worked...  In fact, mom was licking the bottom of the pot.  Woo hoo!  So thank you Mr. Symon for pointing me in the right direction.

Brandied Gorgonzola Tomato Soup

2 TB olive oil
6 oz (170g) Red Onion, chopped (that's about 1 medium red onion)
Kosher Salt
4 cloves Garlic, sliced
1 28-ounce (794g) can San Marzano tomatoes, with their juice
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) (355ml) Chicken Stock
3/4 cup (6 oz) (177ml) Heavy Cream
1 TB Red Pepper Concentrate (The stuff in the tube by Amore)
1 small sprig of Dill Weed (you need to fish it out later)
1/2 cup (2.25 oz) (65g) Gorgonzola Dolce (creamy Gorg - AKA: Dolcelatte), plus more for serving
2 TB Brandy (oh yeah, baby!)
Crème Fraîche for serving

Begin by heating the oil in a stock pot set over medium flame.

When hot, add the Red Onion and Kosher Salt, sweat for about 2 minutes. (The salt will force the water in the onions to release)

Add the Garlic and sweat 1 - 2 minutes longer.

Add the San Marzano Tomatoes, breaking them up a little with a spoon.

Then add the Chicken Stock as well.

Bring the mixture to a simmer.

Add the Heavy Cream and the Red Pepper Concentrate along with the sprig of Dill.

Return the mixture to a low simmer, cover and continue simmering for 40 minutes.

OK, Food Processor, Schmood Processor....  If you have a stick blender, your good to go.

Remove the Dill weed, add the Gorgonzola Dolce and beat the whole mixture into submission with the stick blender.

Run the soup through a strainer into a clean pot.

(this will remove the tomato seeds, of which there really aren't many, cause San Marzanos are almost seedless)

Return the soup to a low flame and stir in the Brandy.

Serve with a dollop of Crème Fraîche and a sprinkle of crumbled Gorgonzola.

Honestly, I think this is the best tomato soup I have ever had!  It's amazing!  If you're not a blue cheese fan, worry not.  You don't really "taste" blue cheese... There just isn't enough in the soup.  But somehow, some way, if gives more of a back bone to the sweetness of the San Marzano tomatoes... Then again, maybe I just got too much brandy in the soup.  ;)

If you'll excuse me now, I think I need to go have another bowl...

Now THIS is what I call Mmmm Mmmmm Good!

Mangia!!
~~

1 comment:

Heather (@ girlichef.com) said...

Oh my goodness...this sounds so rich and decadent. And yeah, I do get that sometimes. Totally flattering, but sometimes it makes me feel inferior (like I hope I can live up to their expectations).