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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Barefoot Contessa's Cream of Tomato Soup

Ok, I'm cheating a bit here: I haven't actually tried this recipe but I it comes highly recommended by friend Shannon who added her own tweaks. She serves it with floating pesto toasts (grilled french bread slices smeared in pesto) and says it is perfect for a cold winter's night.

Here are her comments and the recipe follows ~ Enjoy.
1 red onion instead of 1 1/2
Not homemade chix stock (her recipe to make calls for 5 small chickens....I don't think so)
I use skim milk and before adding it, wisk in either flour or corn starch to help thicken.....mostly b/c I do not have cream on hand
and do not want to buy it for such a small amount!
AND if you do not have fresh basil, you can add pesto if you have that on hand.....

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup (Serves 5 to 6)

3 tablespoons good olive oil1½ cups chopped red onion (2 onions)

2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)

1½ teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon tomato paste

¼ cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves

3 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 tablespoon kosher salt2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper¾ cup heavy cream

Julienned fresh basil leaves for garnishParmesan toasts, optional

Heat the olive oil heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender. Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that’s left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves, and/or Parmesan toasts.

No-Knead Bread

I thought it was only fitting to start off this blog with a recipe from . It worked out beautifully and was delicious. I've included a picture of my first attempt.

The only problem is that if you plan to serve it for guests, you have to start the day before and work out the timing so that it is warm out of the oven.
~ Enjoy.

Makes one 1 1/2-pound loaf .

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Olive oil, as needed
Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed (optional)


In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Coat a second large bowl with olive oil. Transfer dough to oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, but preferably up to 18, in a room about 70 degrees in temperature. When surface is dotted with bubbles, dough is ready.
Lightly flour work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle just enough flour over work surface and your fingers to keep dough from sticking; quickly and gently shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran; place dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with a second cotton towel and let rise until it has more than doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.
After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot, such as cast-iron or Pyrex, in oven as it heats. When dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; turn dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking until browned, 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
First published January 2007

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