Monday, January 31, 2011

Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup

You would think that after spending a glorious afternoon sampling Wisconsin craft beers and artisanal cheeses at the Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest on Saturday, I'd be ready to take a bit of a break from cheese. Rather than getting sick of cheese (and beer), I'm even more enthusiastic about incorporating it into my diet. Grilled cheese is a regular part of my diet, accompanied most frequently by tomato soup. I've never tried making my own tomato soup before, but I've had this recipe bookmarked in Michael Symon's Live to Cook since I checked out from the library.

This soup is much more complex in the flavor than your average tomato soup. Each bite takes you on a little flavor journey, starting with the fresh tomato flavor, followed by a punch of heat from the sriracha, and finished with the smooth, creamy blue cheese, an atypical, yet amazing ingredient. This soup is definitely spicy, and those that like their food mild should cut back on the sriracha sauce, or perhaps serve the soup with sour cream to cut the heat. I served the soup with grilled cheese sandwiches made with Forgotten Valley smoked butterkase; the smoky cheese was the perfect foil to the spice, although any grilled cheese would be lucky to be dunked in this soup.

Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup
adapted from Michael Symon's Live to Cook
serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, with their juice
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup blue cheese

1. Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a three-fingered pinch of salt and sweat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice, and the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cream, sriracha sauce, and oregano and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Pour the soup into a blender, add the blue cheese, and blend until smooth, working in batches if needed or blend with an immersion blender. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, taste, adjust the seasoning is necessary, and reheat to serve. The soup will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for a few days.

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