Yup, that’s right you heard me…BLT soup. This soup was divine, just divine. It’s everything you could want in a BLT sandwich, but in the form of a soup, and it was just delicious. Did I mention it was divine? Well it was…if you were wondering. So anyway, it’s been kind of rainy here lately. This is strange, since it never rains; and if mother nature decides she wants to precipitate, it usually means it’s going to snow. Rain is totally a good thing, so I’m not complaining TOO much…yet. If it decides to keep on raining, then I may have to start to complain. Hey! I enjoy living in a place where the sun shines 300 out of 360 days a year. Until then, I will just bask in the glory that is rain and make soup. Rain is such a good reason to make soup and this was such a fun soup to make. Not to mention that it is spectacularly easy, the ingredients are super fresh and you can almost taste each one individually. Keep close attention though! There are quite a few steps with this one. Skip just one step, and you will certainly use your B, or L, or T. Obviously, this is very important…
What’s so fun about this soup is that it’s a play on one of the greatest sandwiches known to mankind. I love it because it’s kind of the same, but totally different too. So let’s break it down shall we…
The “B”: The bacon stays true to it’s original form. We dice it up, instead of leaving it whole. It gets piled on top of the soup at the end.
The “L”: This is my favorite part. For the “L” we made a pesto. We kept it thicker than your average pesto, by using just a little less olive oil. For this step, I recommend being very careful with the amount of olive oil you use. You want a very thick pesto so that it lies right on top of the soup and doesn’t “swirl” away into the soup. Start with a tablespoon and continue to work your way up. This is what I SHOULD have done. I ended up having to go back and and add more greens to thicken it up. Please don’t do what I did. You will only get frustrated and end up with about 4 cups of pesto in the end. Yup, that’s right. We will be eating pesto pasta in just a couple of days, and I don’t even think that will get rid of it all. Ok, so moving along…
The “T”: The “T” makes up the entire soup. We used a TON of tomatoes in this guy (yes they were canned because frankly I didn’t feel like peeling 101 tomatoes…you can use fresh though if you like), and you will certainly not miss that tomato taste. It’s really just your everyday tomato soup. I threw some herbs in there for good luck because you totally need fresh herbs in a tomato soup. They really make or break your soup, so be generous but be gentle with your herbs =). I don’t really know what that has to do with luck, but it sounded right at the moment.
I know that the bread doesn’t make up the BLT acronym, but you certainly can not have a BLT without some bread. That’s where the croutons come in. These are easy. Just toss them in a little butter and oil and season with salt and pepper. Crisp them up in the oven and throw them on top of your soup. This was my second favorite part. I love a good crouton.
Yup, that would be a naked soup. Sorry about that.
We decided to go totally awesome sauce on this beer pairing and pair with Stone’s OAKED Arrogant Bastard. If you do not know what this is, give yourself a little smack on the wrist and ask yourself “why!?” Oh, and then go learn what this beer actually is, or you can just read ahead because I’m going to tell you anyway. You really can’t get any better than Stone in my book. They are pretty large these days, but their quality has not suffered and we, as beer lovers, appreciate that. They are always releasing something new and delectable, and if you’ve never been to the brewery, do yourself a favor and jump on the next flight to San Diego. They are located in Escondido and their “brewery complex” is out-of-control. I like their gardens for obvious reasons, but they also have some delicious grub…probably the best I’ve ever had at a brewery. Ok, so back to this beer. There should be no excuses. You will be able to find this brew. It’s an American Strong Ale, and boy is it “strong”. The hints of oak are perfection. It’s strong-bodied, good-willed and agressive (I feel like I’m describing a person). It’s sweet, yet bitter (also, kind of describing a person) and really helps to tone down the acidity from the tomatoes in the soup. Please give it a try if you haven’t. You will be missing out if you don’t.
I’m going to go watch the lightening now, since it hardly ever happens and it’s fun =). I hope everyone is enjoying their Thursdays and are super duper excited for the weekend! I know that I am!
- FOR THE SOUP
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 56 ounces canned whole tomatoes, peeled (2 28ounce cans)
- 5 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- FOR THE CROUTONS
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 loaf day old bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- salt and pepper
- FOR THE BACON
- 6 strips of thick-cut bacon, diced
- FOR THE PESTO
- 1 cup arugula
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/2 cup basil
- 1 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- For the soup, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a 5-quart dutch oven. Once the butter has melted, add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook until translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes, chicken stock, basil, thyme and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture (in batches) to a blender and blend until completely smooth. Transfer the soup back to the dutch oven and turn the heat on low. Gently stir in the heavy cream and cook for another 20-25 minutes uncovered. Adjust seasoning to taste and keep warm until ready to serve.
- For the croutons, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, combine the butter, olive oil, bread and a dash of salt and pepper. Toss together and then pour onto your prepared baking sheet. Transfer the sheet to the hot oven and cook until slightly brown and crispy, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool until you are ready to serve.
- For the bacon, heat a non-stick, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook until all the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a paper-towel line plate to drain any excess fat.
- For the pesto, combine the arugula, spinach, basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and a dash of salt and pepper in a blender. Begin to blend at a low speed, and slowly drizzle in your olive oil until you reach the consistency you desire. For the soup, it should be of a thicker consistency, so that it rests on top.
- Serve the soup hot, and top with the croutons, bacon and pesto. Enjoy!
Hardware: * Cutting Board * Sharp Knife * 5-Quart Dutch Oven w/ Lid * Wooden Spoons * Heavy-Bottomed Skillet * Paper Towel Lined Plate * Foil Lined Baking Sheet * Bowls * Measuring Cups * Measuring Spoons * Ladle * Blender *