Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tomato Bisque ~

I am a soup person - I love soups of all kinds but a lot of the time eating soup in a restaurant, that's not home made, is quite impossible due to the abundant use of wheat flour in most soups as a thickener. Rarely is there a time when I find a safe soup that I can completely trust to be gluten-free. I know it's the same for most of you, as well.

This past weekend I was fighting off a crummy cold (again) and decided after a bountiful shopping spree at Whole Foods that I would hunker down and cook...soup.

One of my new, most favorite cook books I've been working out of is Cristina's of Sun Valley, by Cristina Ceccatelli Cook. A Tuscan native who moved to Sun Valley, Idaho years ago, is not only the author of this book but the founder and owner of Cristina's Restaurant, which she opened in 1993. It's such a delightful restaurant tucked away in my most-favorite location in downtown Ketchum, ID at 520 Second St. East.

The food put forth at Cristina's is always uncomplicated, original and delicious...rooted in her native Tuscan taste buds and classic flavors. Whether you drop by (make sure to call for a reservation) for a delicious, hearty breakfast or brunch, a visit to the colorful and tempting deli case to pack up for a picnic, or dining by candlelight in the cozy dining room, you are sure to leave Christina's sated and armed with one of her cookbooks!

So back to soup...I have to admit that I've never cooked a Tomato Bisque from scratch. It's one of my favorite soups though, so when I found Cristina's tomato bisque recipe that was so simple and fresh I couldn't resist. My mom assisted and we whipped up a huge pot of warmth and a very healthy and warm meal that I've been enjoying for several days. It was a small accomplishment that put a big smile on my face upon the first taste while thinking to myself, "hey, I just cooked this delicious soup."

It is such an easy recipe that I don't think Cristina will mind me sharing it with you all, and most's gluten-free!

Tomato Bisque - Serves 6

- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

- 1 Small yellow onion, diced

- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic

- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil chiffonade

- 1/2 Cup white wine

- 8 Cups fresh, ripe Italian tomatoes, diced, with their juice, or 8 cups canned Italian tomatoes

- 1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1 1/2 Cups cream

- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

- 2 pieces of Udi's toasted bread with olive oil (for GF crostino)

Simply saute the onion, garlic and basil in olive oil until onions are tender and light gold in color (until they become transparent). Then add wine and let cook for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then pulse mixture briefly in a food processor or blender to obtain a creamy consistency. (I had to pulse the mixture in two different batches, for the same amount of time and it worked perfectly).

Return (all batches) to the original pot, whisk in the cream and bring to a gentle simmer. When ready to serve, drizzle each bowl of soup with olive oil and garnish with a fresh basil leaf and home made gluten-free croutons.

Croutons: Thanks to a gluten-free friend, I learned of the delicious Udi's Gluten-free food/bread that I've been toasting all week. I just toasted the bread, drizzled with olive oil and then cut into squares and garnish the soup. I also grated fresh parmigiano that topped it off perfectly.

Cristina says that this soup is also very good served chilled for a summer evening- similar to a gazpacho. Mmmmmmmmm

Stay warm. Eat gluten-free soup. Say thanks to Cristina!


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