November 06, 2010

Tomato Tarragon Bisque

It's definitely soup weather. In fact, not only was my last post also soup, I am also making soup right now. However, the one that is currently on the stove is my trusty ol' Beef Barley Soup, which I have already told you about. I noticed the recipe doesn't contain bay leaves, so I added some, and I'm also using fresh thyme, but otherwise, no change. It looks exactly like the picture through the link.

Today, instead, I'm going to tell you about a soup that I made a few weeks ago, the last of which I pulled from the freezer and defrosted for lunch earlier this week. Tomato Tarragon Bisque.

I've been using tarragon a lot since my sister brought me a seedling. Turns out, the seedling really, really enjoyed the plant food I gave it, and has been growing fairly abundantly. I've had to cut it back just to keep it off the floor. Now, tarragon likes a couple of things in this world, and two of them are cream and mushrooms. So, there've been a few dinners involving sauteed chicken with mushrooms and tarragon cream sauce, and the like, but that's a whole other post.

Since I can't eat creamy things every day (or I will need to buy a larger wardrobe), I started thinking about things that I could make with tarragon that weren't fundamentally based on dairy. I remembered, long ago, a Manhattan-style clam chowder recipe that I made (in an attempt to impress someone, actually) that had tarragon, and I think that was the first time that I had ever used the herb. That recipe (and the relationship) and I parted ways twenty years ago, and I don't really like clams, so that was out. It did lead me to thinking about tomato-based soups, though, and so that is ultimately what I decided to do.

I started with my Simple Tomato Soup recipe (expired link removed, please see recipe in the comments section below), which is a wonderfully all-purpose soup that can be switched up in a lot of ways. Ultimately, I did very little to change it. I added some drained, diced tomatoes (peel them if using fresh) after the puree stage, and about a half-cup of finely chopped tarragon leaves, stirred right in at the end. I didn't add the allspice, because I wasn't making "that" soup.

The brightness of the fresh tarragon and nice, bite-sized chunks of tomato interrupt the smooth, thick texture texture of the soup made it hearty enough that it didn't really need a sandwich on the side (although a chunk of bread didn't go amiss). Overall, a pleasantly light lunch or part (as they say) of a nutritious dinner...

Definitely on the repeat list.


claire said...

this looks delicious!

Dawna said...

Soup Recipe!

Simple Tomato Soup

Serves 2 - 4
Total prep and cooking time: 30 - 40 minutes

1 1/2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
500 mL vegetable stock
400 mL canned diced tomatoes with juices
1/2 cup white vermouth or dry wine (white or red)
salt as needed
pinch of allspice (important!)

Heat olive oil and butter together in a medium-sized soup pot over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and become foamy, add the garlic and onion. Stir and allow to sauté for a few minutes, or until onion is slightly translucent. Throw in the bay leaf, white pepper and tomato paste, and stir through, allowing the tomato paste to cook for about 30 seconds. Add the vermouth, and stir well, scraping up any bits that might be sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Add the stock and the diced tomatoes, bring to a bare simmer, and let simmer for 15 minutes at medium heat, or 30 minutes on low heat. Taste the liquid, and add allspice (easy does it) and salt if necessary. Turn off heat. Remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to blitz the soup smooth in the pot, or carefully transfer the hot soup to a blender (never more than half-fill your blender at a time, or it will explode all over your kitchen) and purée until smooth.


Cream of Tomato Soup – reduce amount of stock to 400 mL, and add 125 mL (1/2 cup) of cold whipping cream with a pinch of cornstarch stirred through it. If needed, re-warm gently over low heat

Tomato Basil Soup – add 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves with the tomato paste, and stir in 1/4 cup of finely shredded fresh basil just before serving. Alternately, simply stir two tablespoons (or to taste) of prepared basil pesto into the soup just before serving.

Hearty Tomato Soup – add 1/4 cup dry red lentils (well rinsed under running water) and 1/2 cup water with the stock.

Tomato Vegetable Soup – add 1 1/2 cups of raw vegetables, diced small, after blending the soup. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes longer: corn, bell pepper, celery, zucchini are all good. Try a little fresh parsley at the end, to give it some freshness.