Spicy Tomato Bleu Cheese Soup

The first time I made this soup was early January 2010 for a New Year's party.  I decided to make the full batch which serves four to six people and when ladled into small bowls, it can stretch for a gathering.  In this recipe, I scaled the ingredients down for a smaller batch.  San Marzano tomatoes are typically sold in 28 ounce cans - feel free to use a 14 ounce can of whole tomatoes (regardless of brand) or open the larger size and use the remaining tomatoes for another use.  I'm sure that won't be a tough challenge!

Spicy Tomato Bleu Cheese Soup
adapted from the Amateur Gourmet
originally from Michael Symon's Live To Cook by Michael Symon

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small-ish red onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 14-oz can San Marzano tomatoes with the juice
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce, or a little less depending on taste (don't buy it, make your own)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup Blue cheese (Roth Kase is recommended; Maytag or Buttermilk are also good)

Heat the olive oil in a 2 quart pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a large pinch of salt and sweat for two minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for two more minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice and the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the cream, sriracha sauce, and thyme and simmer for 45 minutes.  Take care to not let the soup boil - heavy cream doesn't like it!

Add the blue cheese to the soup, and using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  A regular blender could also be used and work in batches if necessary.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and reheat to serve.

The soup will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for a few days.

Tortilla & Lime Soup

Cooler temperatures have returned to Chicago.  It is mid-May and those summer breezes haven't arrived.  This tortilla soup is perfect for lunch or dinner and packs a spicy punch.  Add roasted chicken or grilled steak for a heartier meal or top with avocado, cilantro, cheese, or red onion.  

Tortilla & Lime Soup

Adapted from: Soup Chick 
Serves 1-2

2 corn or whole wheat tortillas
1 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced, plus 1/2 tsp adobo sauce

1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes 
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
Juice of 2 limes, plus the rinds (4 halves of squeezed lime)
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano 
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Garnish options: diced red onion, chopped avocado, cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 425°F. Slice tortillas into thin matchsticks, 2-3 inches long and 1/4-inch wide and spread on a cookie sheet. Leave out on the countertop to get a bit stale while the soup is prepared.

In a stockpot, heat the oil. Sauté onion until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the chipotle, adobo sauce, and tomatoes and stir 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, water, lime juice, lime halves, oregano and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove lime rinds. Set soup aside, covered. 

Bake the tortilla strips for 10 minutes, or until crisp and browned. Stir half of the tortilla strips into the soup, and let sit for 5 minutes. Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and garnish with more crispy tortilla strips and garnishes.

Three Onion Chowder

This chowder involves quite a bit of chopping: onions, leeks, garlic, shallot, celery, chives, and potatoes.  To save myself some time, I bought celery from the Whole Foods salad bar; when a recipe calls for so little, I never seem to find a solution to use up the left-over celery.  Another time saver is the Trader Joe's four ounce packages of cubed pancetta - I keep it in the freezer and throw the cubes into the pan without thawing.  Once all ingredients were chopped and ready to go into the pot, time flew by -- including the 30 minute waiting time with the heat turned off, the chowder took under an hour to make.  

Three Onion Chowder
serves 4-6 people adapted from Food52 

1 tablespoon butter
3 ounces pancetta, 1/4 inch dice
2 cups yellow onion, peeled and julienned
1 large leek, rinsed, white parts only, sliced into half moons
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup celery, 1/4 inch dice
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock + 1 cup water
2 cups half and half
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 dice
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

In a three quart Dutch oven, add the butter and pancetta and place it over medium heat to render the pancetta. Once some of the fat has been released add the onions, shallot and celery. Saute until almost golden. Add the leeks, garlic and thyme. Cook until the leeks are just becoming soft. Add the bay leaf, chicken stock, and water. Bring it to a boil and add the half and half and the potatoes. Bring the soup back to a boil and then immediately turn off the heat and cover the pot. Allow it to rest for at least thirty minutes.

To finish the soup reheat it but don't let it boil. Taste a potato to check and see if it is done and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the potatoes are not done then cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the chives and then ladle into cups or bowls.