Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tomato Leek Crème Soup

     A Great Tasting Soup!
     I have made so many different kinds of soups while working in restaurants.  When deciding on a soup du jour, I often relied upon classic soups that fine dining customers easily recognized.  Customer favorites are an easy way to generate sales, but offering the same soups repeatedly will cause regular customers to become bored.  Creating soups becomes easy to do, especially when working as a sous chef with the goal of eliminating waste in a restaurant kitchen.  When there is only small amounts of odds and ends in a cooler after a busy night or if an overstock situation exists, a soup can be created to use up the small quantities of food items or sell slow moving perishable items.  For example, if tomatoes were overstocked and they are becoming overripe, then design a soup the requires plenty of tomato.  If there is two pounds of snapper and three pounds of grouper leftover from the night before, then design a Portuguese style chowder that required tomato and fish.  As one can see, soup can reduce stock and eliminate waste.
     As a sous chef, I became so famous for creating great soups at a French café that the French chef from Corsica decided to put seven different soups on the menu.  Needless to say, I was quite busy making soups and the soups sold well.  I was given room to make one soup du jour for lunch and one for dinner each day.  When exerting waste control was not necessary, I focused on creating soups that were customer favorites.
      Potato Leek Soup is a customer favorite nearly everywhere and I have made this classic soup hundreds of times.  Potato Leek Soup is a good seller on a chilly day, but when the weather is warm, lighter soups are more appealing.  Just by switching tomatoes for potatoes, a lighter soup with a good leek flavor can be made.
     Tomato Leek Crème Soup actually is one of the best selling soups du jour that I have ever cooked.  Tomato Leek Crème Soup is light enough to appeal to customers when the weather warms up, especially during the spring season.  Some chefs puree every soup that they make as if they are working in a geriatric ward, but a soup can benefit from having some texture.  Small pieces of tomato add a nice rustic character to a crème soup.
     Tomato Leek Crème Soup:
     This recipe yields about 4 1/4 cups.  (2 large portions)
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium low/low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 cup of brunoise diced leek.  (brunoise = 1/8" dice)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 2 tablespoon of brunoise diced carrot.
     Add 2 tablespoon of brunoise diced celery.
     Gently sauté and sweat the vegetables till they are tender.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 cups of diced peeled and seeded overripe tomatoes.  (Italian canned peeled seeded Plum Tomatoes can also be used.)
     Sauté and occasionally stir till the tomatoes just start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of tomato juice.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of light chicken stock.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of milk.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Step 4:  Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 2 pinches of dill weed.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.  (to taste)
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Stir the soup occasionally as it comes to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring with a whisk to make a roux.  (The roux should look shiny and smooth, not caky.)
     Constantly stir till the roux is pale golden color.
     Step 7:  Remove the roux pot from the heat.
     Slowly add the roux to the soup while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     *The soup will thicken to a very thin consistency.
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the soup is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  The finished volume should be about 4 cups to 4 1/4 cups.
     Step 9:  Remove the bay leaf.
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     This recipe describes 1 large portion.
     Ladle 2 cups of the Tomato Leek Crème Soup into a shallow large soup bowl.
     Place the soup bowl on a doily lined serving plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Served with bread on the side.
     The bits of tomato add character to this soup.  The basil and dill are nice herbs for a tomato cream soup.  The gentle flavor of leek is perfect with the tomato!

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