Sunday, November 7, 2010

Guest Post: Tomato Basil Bisque

Ladies and Juggamen (Sorry, that's how Vi says it. I couldn't resist), I give you M&M's first ever guest post!

This post is from my lovely friend, Erin. She's a sassy redhead (okay, it's really auburn), with a heart of gold. She's also a SUPERB cook, and bakes like a pro (as well as excessively modest, as you will see in a moment). She and I share a love of all things foodie, and we have fantasized about starting a supper club on several occasions. Maybe, one day, Erin. Maybe.

I'm so glad she's sharing this recipe. We've eaten it, and I think it's not only a winner, but it's one for the weekly recipe planner. If I may be so bold as to suggest a grilled cheese sandwich to accompany it...

Everyone, I give you, ERIN:

Hi Everyone! I met Lora I can’t remember when (is that bad?), but I know that it was at church many moons ago (2006? 2007?). We clicked pretty much from the beginning, and a friendship full of laughter began. (Awww....) I think Lora’s one of the best people around, and I’m envious of her mad culinary skills.

I am by no means the best cook in the world. The extent of my technical knowledge pretty much amounts to knowing what chiffonade means, and I know what a stiff peak looks like when you’re beating egg whites. But, I love it. I love creating something with my hands that can bless someone else or make my husband say, “You should really make this again.” Especially in the fall, I love being in my kitchen, baking and cooking and filling the house with warm, inviting smells that just feel like a giant hug. To me, there’s almost no better feeling than having friends over for dinner and talking and laughing and living while sharing a meal. Memories can be made at the dinner table, people! Likewise, cooking with’s so much fun for me to share cooking with friends and my mom and sisters.

My mom taught me to cook when I was young and so most of the things I make that are “specialties” are really rip-offs of things she would make. I also, gasp!, don’t like to measure. Unfortunately, this means that when I create something that mightalmostcouldquitepossiblybe original, I guess at the amounts for when I want to re-create it. This recipe, however, is the exception. My mom found it when she was sick one day and asked me to make it for her. I have since made it many, many, many times, and my 18-month old will eat this up every time I make it.

You can make it as healthy as you like, but let’s be real. Who doesn't love using real cream when the opportunity presents itself? Like when making truffles...mmm...truffles. Oh wait, this is a soup recipe.

So, bon appetit!

Tomato Basil Bisque
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
2 tbsp. butter
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
3 oz. tomato paste (1/2 a small can, essentially)
1 tsp. dried basil 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup half-and-half (ahem, HEAVY CREAM)
4 tsp. sugar (I don’t add that much because I find it makes the soup too sweet for my taste, but add as much or little as you want. You will want to add some sugar though, to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.)

In a large saucepan, saute your veggies (including garlic) in the butter till tender (not brown). You will want them pretty tender. Add the tomato juice, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and spices, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or till slightly thickened. *Now, here’s the slightly tricky part...and as complicated as the recipe gets.* Puree till smooth. If you do not have a handheld blender/immersion blender, tell your loved ones you MUST have one for Christmas, and then pull your food processor or blender down. Only puree HALF of the soup at a time and then return to the cooking pot. If you have a handheld blender, plug that baby in and start stirring away right there in the pot. (Turn the heat off.) Once your soup is pureed (it probably won’t be perfectly smooth and that is okay), stir in the half/half (HEAVY CREAM) and sugar. Heat your soup through and voila! You have made bisque! Pat yourself on the back, reach for a glass of wine and enjoy. I have topped this with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Both are unnecessary, but add tastiness. Also, feel free to serve this with a salad and crusty bread and you will have a meal that will impress. :)

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