TOMATO BISQUE by Chef John Makin

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Grocery List:

1 whole celery stalk
2 large whole carrots
1 large & 1 medium Vidalia onions (or other sweet onions)
1 large round, ripe fresh tomato
6 large, ripe Roma tomatoes
1 small bottle virgin olive oil
1 whole fresh pod of garlic
1 ½ cups (12-oz) heavy cream
1 (3-oz.) can tomato paste
2-oz. fresh small (if possible) basil leaves
1 small container pinenuts (need 2 T.)
1 small wedge Parmesan cheese
1 long Baguette loaf of bread

First, make a vegetable stock:

8 cups water
2 large pieces of celery, cut in chunks, use the leaves also
2 large carrots, peeled & cut in chunks
1 large onion, peeled & cut in chunks
1 large fresh round tomato, unpeeled  & cut in chunks
1 ½ tsp. salt

Place all ingredients into a Dutch oven or soup pot, bring to a boil for 5 minutes; then reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 35 minutes.  Remove from heat; then remove the vegetables from the stock. Set aside the reserved stock to be used later.  The vegetables removed from the stock can either be discarded or you can use them as you desire.


Second, begin the Tomato Bisque:

6 whole, ripe Roma tomatoes
½ medium Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion)
½ cup virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 cups vegetable stock (see recipe above)
3 oz. tomato paste
¼ cup Basil Pesto (see recipe below)
1 ¼ tsp. to 1 ½ tsp. salt

Fill a medium saucepan ½ full of water and bring it to a boil.  Using a long-handle, 2 tine cooking fork, securely place the stem-end of a tomato onto the 2 tines of the fork; then place the whole tomato and part of the fork into the boiling water for about 30 seconds.  Remove the tomato from the boiling water and from the fork to a cutting board.  Using a small paring knife, lightly pierce the tip of the paring knife into the tomato skin and gently peel the tomato skin off in long pieces.  Repeat with all tomatoes.  On a cutting board, cut each peeled tomato in half length-wise.  Using a grapefruit or other narrow spoon, gently remove all tomato seeds and discard. (I put the seeds with their pulp in a small bowl, add a little salt and eat!).  Now, dice the tomatoes into uniform pieces.  Dice the onion into the same size uniform pieces.  Using a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the olive oil for just 15 seconds; then add the diced tomatoes, onions and minced garlic.  Stir to coat all vegetables with the olive oil, lower heat to medium-low and allow vegetables to “sweat” for 10 to15 minutes until the onion appears translucent.  Remove from heat and set aside.


Third, make the Basil Pesto:

2 oz. fresh small (if possible) sweet basil leaves, washed & trimmed of stems
2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
2 T. raw pinenuts
3 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3T. Virgin olive oil, divided
¼ tsp. salt.

Using a cutting board, chop the basil leaves until you turn green!  The leaves ultimately need to be tiny specks of green.  In a food processor using the bottom steel cutting blades, add all of the Pesto ingredients to the chopped basil and puree.  Taste for salt and add, if needed.  Measure and reserve ¼ cup of the Pesto to use in the Tomato Bisque later.  To the small amount of Pesto that remains in the food processor, add the remaining 2-T. olive oil.  Puree again; then remove this Pesto mixture to a small bowl to use on the warmed baguette to serve on the side with the Tomato Bisque.  Do not bother to wash the food processor yet since it will be used again.

Fourth, finish the Tomato Bisque:

Use the food processor that made the Basil Pesto.  The bowl will probably still have Pesto flakes in it, which is good.  Add the “sweated” tomato mixture to the bowl and puree.  Pour the pureed tomato mixture back into the Dutch oven; then measure and add 2 cups of the reserved vegetable stock.  Stir to blend; then heat to boiling.  After bring to a complete boil, lower the heat to medium and slowly stir-in the tomato paste to blend and thicken.  Add the reserved ¼ cup of the Basil Pesto and stir to blend again.  Making sure the heat is below the boiling point, slowly stir-in the cream. Add the lesser amount of the salt; then taste. Add more salt, if desired.  Do not let the Tomato Bisque ever come to a boil after adding the cream; even if re-heating it.

In the oven, heat a long Baguette loaf of bread according to package directions.  After heated, cut the Baguette into individual pieces; then split each piece and spread with the remaining Basil Pesto.  Serve on the side with a cup or a bowl of the Tomato Bisque.


Can't tell you how delicious this is.  Please read "The Curious Palate" for the rest of the story!


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