Heirloom Tomato Soup

. This recipe comes from Chef Brandon Sharp of the Michelin Star Restaurant, Solage in Calistoga, CA.  A recipe like this warms the soul when the weather gets cold.


INGREDIENTS 1 yellow onion, medium dice 1/4 cup Olive Oil 1 bunch fresh basil tied with 4 sprigs of thyme and 4 sprigs of marjoram 2 cloves of garlic, minced 5 overripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and large chunked 1/2 TBSP salt 1 TSP balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a large saucepot, sweat onions with herbs in oil over medium low heat until tender. Stir in garlic and quickly add tomatoes and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until tomatoes are broken down. Drizzling in balsamic vinegar, remove herbs and blend soup with a hand blender while pouring in extra virgin olive oil.

Chilled Cucumber Soup Wine Pairing

photo courtesy of sassyradish.com



Go up to the ingredients list and pick out the fruits listed.  You'll see honeydew melon and lemon stand out as two of the flavors that go into the soup.  That's a great starting point when thinking about what wine to pull out and serve.  A grape like Muscat can work very well with tree fruits, and when you get one from France you will tap into a beautiful expression of the variety.  The 2009 Joseph Cattin Muscat comes from Alsace, France and should be relatively easy to find in local wine shops.

Here we see Muscat at its finest showing off aromatic fireworks that will remind you of walking through a garden with your shirt off, or at least that's what it reminded me of.  Fresh picked grapes, fresh flowers and a dusting of allspice will be apparent right off.  But I like this as a pairing because there's a dryness in the wine and an acidity that you need to cut through the soup.  The texture of the wine and texture of the soup are what make this an exciting first course for people you really like.  For people you don't really like you can serve them some plonk from California that sits on the bottom shelf.

Chilled Watermelon Soup

Seedless watermelon Purchased Feb. 2005 in Atl...
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10 cups seedless watermelon chunks 2 LBS fresh fruit, cubed (apricots, peaches, grapes, cherries, melon) 3/4 cup golden raisins 4 OZ sweet white dessert wine such as muscat 3 TBSP Greek thyme honey Mint leaves (for garnish)

Remove rinds and any small seeds from watermelon and cut into chunks.  In food processor, puree watermelon with honey and wine. Transfer to large serving bowl, stir in fruit.  Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours before serving. Add mint leaves as a garnish on top.

What wine would you pair with this?  Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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Butternut Squash Soup


1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced 1-1/4 LB potatoes, peeled and diced 3 carrots, peeled and diced 1 QT vegetable stock 2 TSP lemon juice 2 TBSP brown sugar 1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped 1 Pint cream 2 TSP curry powder 2 TSP curry powder

In large heavy pot, melt butter on low heat.  Add onions, squash, potatoes and carrots.  Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are translucent but not brown, about 1 hour.  Add vegetable stock, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add cream and curry powder.  Use hand blender and blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Boston Bouillabaisse

1 LB cod fillets*1 LB pollock fillets* 1 LB flounder fillets* 1 LB sea scallops 3/4 cup white onion, chopped 3/4 cup sliced celery 1 garlic clove, minced 1/3 cup butter 2 cups fish stock or clam juice 1 cup water 2 cans (1 LB ea.) tomatoes 1/2 TSP thyme 1 bay leaf, crushed 1/2 TSP saffron Salt and Pepper to taste * any fish fillets will do

Cut fillets into bite sized chunks.  Cook onion, celery and garlic butter until soft but not brown.  Add fish stock, water, tomatoes and herbs.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add seafood and simmer for 10 minutes longer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve.


Flavor Intensity: tongue-map-intensity_71

Wine pairings with this dish are fun because it's such a tasty recipe. The Sauvie B's and Chenin Blancs tend to pair best. For example, the Chenin Blanc from 22 Hundred Cellars in Paso Robles works well as a wine pairing here because it seems to compliment the salt with just the right amount of sweetness from quince notes. Winemakers often think of Chenin Blanc being a noble white grape compared to Chardonnay, and I'd say if you find a good one, they're right. At last year's Aspen Food&Wine festival, my favorite wine from the entire weekend was a Reserve Chenin Blanc from South Africa. It has a nice, rich mouth feel but not from "butteriness". The 22 Hundred Cellars Chenin was barrel aged in French oak, and was stirred every two weeks to give it that creamy texture.

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Mushroom Soup with Smoked Bacon and Sour Cream

Serves 4 people INGREDIENTS 1 LB. morel mushrooms, rinsed clean 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 cup sherry ½ sour cream 1 cup heavy cream (optional) 1 yellow onion, chopped 1 celery bunch, chopped 6 OZ smoked bacon, cut into strips 2 cloves garlic 2 carrots, chopped 2 bay leaves 2 sprigs fresh thyme 1 TBSP parsley, finely chopped Salt and pepper

In a soup pot, cook strips of bacon over medium. Once bacon is crisp, remove half the bacon and set aside. Add onions, garlic, celery and carrots to bacon fat, sauté until vegetables start to brown. Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add sherry, chicken or vegetable stock, bay leaves, thyme and heavy cream if desired. Simmer over medium-high heat until vegetables are cooked, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and purée until smooth. Pass liquid through a fine screen strainer and place back into soup pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste, simmer over medium-high heat until ready to serve. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, parsley and a desired flavoring such as truffle oil. Garnish soup with sour cream and bacon strips.

Shrimp and Crab Bisque

1/2 LB shrimp1/2 LB canned crab meat 3-10.5 OZ cans clam juice 8 OZ canned tomato puree 16 OZ cream sherry 2 TSP sugar 2 TBSP garlic, minced 1 TSP red chilie pepper flakes 2 TBSP cornstarch mixed with 3 TBSP water

In a medium saucepan, boil clam juice. Add shrimp when it reached boil, unpeeled. Boil 3-5 minutes until pink. Remove shrimp from liquid and put them in ice water. Peel shrimp and put peels in clam juice simmer juice and shells 15 minutes. Heat cream separately. Strain clam juice and place back n pot and thicken with the slurry mixture. Add tomato puree, hot cream and garlic, sugar, chile flakes and pepper. Add shrimp and use hand blender or pour mixture into a blender. Puree shrimp but don't blend completely. Return mixture to stove, add sherry and crab meat, then warm until ready to serve.

Here's a warm soup for a cold rainy day.  Definitely worth the effort.  Wine pairings to go with this most likely a dry Riesling like the Trefethen or Spy Valley.

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