Thursday, January 8, 2009

A fun night with yum Tuscan Tomato Soup and a fun dessert

Ok-I know I haven't posted a baking post in a while which is not like me because I usually have to hold myself back from baking! I guess I actually have been sticking to my new years resolution, but don't worry I am planning a baking day tomorrow because I am just dying to try out my kitchen aid! In the mean time I have been trying to cook more. I have had a tomato soup recipe from one of my favorite restaurants (The Chef's Table) for a long time and finally got around to making it yesterday. I called my cousin-in law Tanya, also my cooking partner in crime and asked if she would be up for a cooking night and try out this tomato soup. Of course she was game and she also got the baking bug and made a fabulous dessert. So let's start with the soup:

It was so yummy...but I have bad much as I hate to say this, because I absolutely HATE secret recipes, but the chef who gave this to me said not to give it out to everyone I knew. So I figured posting it on my blog would be out of the question but I do have good news! I was watching Tyler Florence on the Food Network and he made a fabulous roasted tomato soup which was very similar to the recipe I had. Pretty much the same but mine had a cup of pesto. So I'm sure if you made Tyler's recipe and added a cup of pesto it would be almost exactly the same, so please don't hate me!

I made this pesto in the summer and have had it in my freezer and after a
quick zap in the microwave it smelt just as if it were fresh! I used Giada's pesto recipe
and I have been very happy with it.

The tomato soup was so creamy and delicious. The heavy
creamy really made it feel super silky in your mouth,
I'm sure my waisteline wont appreciate that but my taste buds definitely did!

Ok on to dessert, Tanya made a berry dessert from Giada DeLaurentis and I thought it was fabulous! So refreshing and very unique. I think this is the perfect summer dessert although I had no complaints eating it in the winter. The mixture or ricotta cheese and orange zest topped with the berry mixture and vanilla sugar crutons was just an explosion of flavor in your mouth! I thought it was fabulous but Tanya had an issue with the texture of the ricotta cheese. I was fine with it but I also thought it would be good to put the ricotta cheese mixture in a food processor with a little cream to make it a sauce. So try both these recipes out and let me know what you think!

Vanill beans are definitely expensive, but I have found that the best
place to get them is Costco. For ten large vanilla beans
it was 12 dollars. Still pricy but for how big the vanilla beans
were it was a great deal.

The gorgeous berries simmering away The aroma was wonderful!

The finished product

Tylers Ultimate roasted tomato soup

* 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)
* 6 cloves garlic, peeled
* 2 small yellow onions, sliced
* Vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, optional
* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 quart chicken stock
* 2 bay leaves
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
* 3/4 cup heavy cream, optional


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. If using vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, add them as well, leaving them whole and on the vine. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized.

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot (set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later). Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish in bowl with 3 or 4 roasted vine cherry tomatoes and a splash of heavy cream.

Basil Pesto Recipe

The following is a basil pesto recipe from Giada's Family Dinners by Giade De Laurentis

  • 2 Cups Fresh Basil
  • 1/4 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan
  • 2/3 Cup extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Pulse basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Add oil and blend to consistency. Good in the fridge for 2 days, add salt and pepper if you so choose.

Ricotta with Vanilla-Sugar Croutons and Berries

* 1/4 (4 ounces) ciabatta loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
* 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla sugar, recipe follows


* 1/2 cup orange juice (from 1 medium orange)
* 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 cup blueberries
* 8 strawberries, hulled and quartered


* 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
* 3 teaspoons orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
* 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar, recipe follows
* 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

For the Croutons:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss together the bread cubes and melted butter. Add the vanilla sugar and toss until the bread cubes are coated in sugar. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely.
For the Syrup:

In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar to a simmer, over medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the blueberries and strawberries and simmer until the fruit softens, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cool the syrup to room temperature.

For the Ricotta:

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well.

To serve: Divide the ricotta mixture between 4 decorative dessert bowls. Spoon the fruit syrup over the ricotta and top with the croutons. Garnish with the sliced mint.
Vanilla Sugar:

* 2 cups sugar
* 1 vanilla bean

Place the sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Using a paring knife, slice the vanilla bean in half, lengthways, and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla seeds to the sugar. Pulse 10 to 15 times until the vanilla and sugar are combined. Cut the empty vanilla pod into 1-inch pieces and place in a glass mason jar. Add the vanilla sugar to the jar and seal. Shake the jar before using.

Yield: 2 cups

Prep Time: 1 minute


  1. Get discount offers on branded products by using free printable coupons at

  2. I use that same pesto recipe, in fact I just pulled some out of my freezer for dinner tonight!