Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tomato & Smoked Gouda Soup + Frico (Frico? What the..)

almost there

  What is better than a hot bowl of soup on a rainy December evening? A whiskey laden hot toddy you ask? Ok, yes, you'd be right. Scratch that. What is the second best thing? Probably a bowl of tomato soup. And I am certainly not talking about the canned stuff (well, not exactly). Of all the many soup varieties that exist out there, tomato has always hands down been my favorite. So simple and unassuming, yet so ricidulously satisfying. Lately, a lot of "bisque" talk has been going on. Which I think is silly. The humble tomato has no time for such frivolous labels. Save that fancy talk for lobsters and such.
  As the name implies, there is smoked Gouda in this soup. I will be the first to admit that it is not my most favorite of cheeses. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with it, it's just...kind of...boring. But it has all of the requirements for a fine cooking cheese indeed. Its smooth texture and smoky flavor play nicely with roasted tomatoes.
  Now, were it summertime, I would be praising the attributes of sweet fresh tomatoes. But being that it is winter (I think, it is Georgia after all), canned tomatoes are called for here. To save face, let's just assume that I slow roasted and canned all of these tomatoes myself,
Ok? Thanks.  

the base
And what is a soup without a nice garnish or three? Sour cream is a must, and pancetta is a fine adornment, but let me introduce you to frico. Many of you may already be familiar with frico, maybe just not with its proper name. It is a thin Italian cheese crisp made of nothing more than grated Parmesan. Bake for a few minutes in the oven and you have one fantastic (gluten, grain, and nut free!) cracker. So simple.
beginnings of frico

Tomato & Smoked Gouda Soup


2 1/4 inch slices of pancetta, diced
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. roasted canned tomatoes
3 T tomato paste
2 c chicken stock or water
2 T fresh basil, minced
1/2 lb. smoked Gouda, shredded
salt & pepper to taste
1 c heavy cream or full fat coconut milk

Brown pancetta over Medium heat until crispy, spoon out and set aside.
Saute carrots and onion in fat until soft, 5 min.
Add garlic and cook for 1 min,
Add tomatoes, paste, stock, basil, and Gouda and bring to boil.
Stir, cover, and reduce heat to Low.
Simmer for 20 min.
Blend soup in blender or with an immersion blender.
Add cream and season to taste.
Garnish with reserved pancetta and a dollop of sour cream.

Italian Frico


finely grated Parmesan or another hard grating cheese like Piave, Asiago, or Pecorino Romano

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Layer a heaping tablespoon of cheese onto paper, leaving about 2 inches in between each pile.
Bake for 5-7 min., watching closely.
Remove from oven when edges start to brown.
Let cool for 5 min.
Try not to eat entire sheet.
Eventually garnish soup after eating 3-4 frico while no one is looking.

tomato soup with frico