Sunday, August 24, 2014

Soup Night 2.0

Paula's Feijoada
You might have seen that we started a new Soup Night in Healdsburg in 2013. We made it through 2 months when our third couple started a complete (read gutted) remodel on their house so we came to a grinding halt. Well - house is done and we had our first (officially third) soup night at their fantastic new home in the beginning of June. Paula made a traditional Brazilian Feijoada stew. It was black beans, pork and who knows what else - but delicious! It traditionally is served with Farofa a toasted yuca flour mixture (the yellow stuff) rice and orange slices. She also made some sautéed greens - really WOW. Amazing textures and tastes - love it! I brought my bread and Sarah brought dessert from a new Healdsburg spot Noble Folk. Thursday is our official night so for July we had a picnic (sandwiches instead) at the Windsor Music since a great band was playing - California Honeydrops!

Art on a plate
Next time August was my turn to host so I made a Tomato Bread Soup and Paula brought a ton of delicious cheeses and Sarah outdid herself with a very artistic salad pictured at the left. It was quite the plate! Some mixed lettuces, tomatillos, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed leeks, radishes, micro greens - whew! Basically all she could find in her fridge! And topped with a tasty vinaigrette - I'm sure I missed something that was on there! The prior week I had made a peach pie and froze it. Now that brings up a funny side bar. The prior week we had some other friends come up from the city and for dessert I had planned on serving the peach pie - well I had only glanced at the recipe and thought it needed to be baked from frozen for 30 min., so when dinner was almost done I pulled it out of the freezer and re-read the recipe and realized that it needed to be baked for 30 min with foil on and then another HOUR without foil. Needless to say that would have us eating dessert at midnight! So, I remembered I had 4 individual molten chocolate cakes in the freezer (yes, I am the Freezer Queen) that only take 12 min to bake - so I whipped those out and disaster averted - my guests of course said "wait THIS is your backup? It's delicious!" Not that it would have been a "disaster" as I did also have some homemade ice-cream handy ; )
Anyway - I just loved this soup night - as it was a perfect evening in that we all just came together and shared what we had. I had 2 pints of tomato soup that I had canned last year but then decided that was not quite enough for 6 people so I did a batch of the one below to add to it as we've got plenty of tomatoes up here right now, and I turned my stale bread into croutons! Then Paula had some new cheeses and some opened cheeses and then everyone brought some slightly opened wines (they are all in the wine business) and with Sarah's salad it was truly a shared meal. Next month Sarah and Kevin are hosting in their new home - can't wait!

Tomato Bread Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 carrots chopped
1 small fennel bulb chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
3-4 pounds chopped tomatoes
cup or so of chicken broth (depends on how juicy your tomatoes are)
1/2 loaf of country bread (I used mine of course ; )
olive oil
salt and pepper
sprinkling of chopped basil
grated parmesan (if you don't have an amazing cheese course!)

Place oil and onions, carrots and fennel in a large pot and sauté until softened. The veggies don't need to be finely chopped because this all gets pureed. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook until broken down - about 30-40 min. Then put it all through a food mill - this is essential and you don't have to peel the tomatoes! Put back in the pot and add the broth - if too thick you can add more or less broth depending on how juicy your tomatoes are - a lot of heirloom ones can be quite liquidy and you may not need any broth. In the meantime make your croutons. Cut off the crusts and chop into bit sized cubes then toss with some olive oil - couple tablespoons and s&p and place on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 12 min, tossing once. You want them browned and crispy. Serve the soup with a handful of croutons, sprinkling of basil and a grating of cheese if you like. Soup can be frozen without bread.

PS. Yes we felt the earthquake last night - woke us up at 3:20 am - only damage was a picture frame fell off a bookshelf and broke. I will consider myself lucky on this one!

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