Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup, a Salute to Summer

roasted heirloom tomato soup

When I told him I’m writing a post on tomato soup, the Husband pointed out I once said  – in front of an audience to make matters worse – that I quote despise unquote said meal. In so many words, yes. Anything I said about tomato soup, I meant and I stand by.

Mind you, the conversation was about the Hungarian variety and I’m sorry to say this, but it’s really, truly appalling. Sweet (like, really sweet), thickened with plain flour and often further aggravated with overcooked alphabet pasta. A fond school cafeteria memory for some, a dreadful flashback for me. I never made it, and my mother gave up on it long ago as well.

Then I’ve learnt about this rustic, Italian approach and I was immediately smitten. This soup is not in heavy rotation at my house, merely because I’m only willing to make it with in-season, sun-ripened produce, nothing less: heirloom tomatoes, yellow onions and garlic from my parents’ garden. A celebration of the wonderful flavors of summer.

(I understand not everyone’s as lucky as I am to have a personal farmers’ market in the form of a childhood home. Your next best option is buying fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables directly from the source.)

Roasting makes all the difference in this soup, so do not omit this step! Going the little extra really isn’t any trouble, it’s just time the tomatoes spend on a sheet pan in the oven while you carry on with whatever household chore you’re choosing to entertain yourself with. The added flavor is just incomparable! Close your eyes and imagine your ingredients going soft, caramelized and sweetened naturally with their own juices… that’s right!

After they come out the oven, you’re just minutes away from the best tomato soup of your life. Everything goes into a pot to simmer some more, then in the blender to be pureed to smooth greatness. (It can be blitzed with a stick blender instead, no worries.)

On a sidenote, let me tell you a story about me and blenders: after two broken cheap-ass units (one of which flooded my kitchen with raspberries and plastic shrapnel at stupid o’ clock in the morning while prepping a post-workout smoothie), I finally invested in a high-power one.

Should’ve done it way earlier – my Philips ProBlend 6 is a workhorse. So far it tackled everything I’ve thrown in the durable glass jar: hot, cold, raw, cooked, frozen, fruits, vegetables, even ice. I use it to make smoothies, soups, purees, frozen drinks, even dutch babies. It’s multi-speed function will blend, crush or cut to the consistency you want. It has an easy clean option, and the parts are machine washable too, bless their little souls.

Back to the soup, it’s best served warm, garnished with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of cream, scattered with more basil. Some crunchy croutons, or a cheesy-garlicky toast might be in order too.

Go dip in!

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup

  • Time: 45 + 15 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A hearty, creamy soup bursting with the best of summer’s flavors. Serves 6.

Ingredients

1 kg (2 lbs) sun-ripened tomatoes

2 medium yellow onions

1 head of garlic

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

salt, black pepper

handful of fresh basil, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 l (1 quart) chicken or vegetable stock

200 ml (3/4 cup) cooking cream

1 tbsp sugar, if needed

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 230°C/450°F
  2. Wash and cut tomatoes in half, peel and quarter onions. Peel most of the paper off the garlic, trim the top off the head to expose tops of cloves.
  3. Spread tomatoes, onions and garlic onto a baking tray in 1 layer, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Roast for 30-40 min until caramelized, remove from oven.
  5. Press on the bottom of the garlic cloves to push them out of the paper (careful, hot!). Including the liquid in the tray, transfer vegetables to a pot.
  6. Add stock and bay leaves. Simmer for 15 min or until liquid has reduced by a third, discard bay leaves.
  7. Transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour back to pot, add cream and basil, bring to a boil. Taste to adjust flavors (if tomatoes were too acidic, add a tbsp of sugar). Turn heat off.
  8. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders, what I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion. I am not being compensated through sponsorship or gifts, but this post contains an affiliate link: I may get a commission for purchases made through it. Thank you for helping me earn a little something on the side!*

5-min Creamy Feta Dip

creamy feta dip spread

Hors d’oeuvre? Warm, a little to the East. Antipasto? You’re getting there, but further eastwards. Mezze – now there you are!

Mediterranean mezze or meze, typical in the Balkans and the Near East, is a selection of small appetizer dishes just like the more renowned French and Italian varieties. Hot or cold, spicy or savory, served at the beginning of a multi-course meal or a meal in its own right, meze is a social event – you are not expected to finish every dish, but rather share at ease.

The recipe I have for you today is meze at its best: not only it is a total no-brainer to make, but also ready in under 5 and full of flavor. You might even have all the ingredients at home as we speak, and hopefully also the wine to go with it!

Fact: I am a feta addict (but you already know that). And after careful and completely unscientific observation of people, I came to realize it’s not just me. So meet your new way to obsess over feta cheese: a smooth, tangy spread Greeks call Kopanisti.

Base your end-of-summer party formula around this dip and lots of complimentary fresh veggies (think zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, celery sticks) and freshly toasted baguette or crusty ciabatta. Seriously, eff those carbs! Just slather on.

So, without further ado, here it is. Because you can never have too many easy, cheesy recipes up your sleeve! 🙂

Creamy Feta Dip

  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

The taste of the Mediterranean in a schmear that’s so so easy to make.

Ingredients

500 g feta or similar white cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil to garnish

optional: lemon zest, red pepper flakes, crushed garlic

Directions

  1. Use a food processor, or mash feta with a fork in a medium bowl.
  2. Season and mix in other ingredients.
  3. Garnish generously with olive oil.
  4. Serve with warm, toasted slices of baguette or ciabatta, or as a dip with raw vegetable chunks.

creamy feta dip spread

creamy feta dip spread

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

Of all the beautiful, fresh produce August has to offer, today I chose juicy blackberries. And would you just look at these recipes! Not your average coffee cake or crumble for sure (I absolutely adore those, mind you). Thumbs up for the lovely ladies who came up with the clever pairings of such delightful flavors!

Blackberry Lavender Champagne Cocktail by Dani of The Adventure Bite:

blackberry lavender champagne cocktail

Lavender Earl Grey Ice Cream Floats by Sarah of Snixy Kitchen:

lavender earl gray blackberry ice cream floats

Blackberry-Thyme Jam and Whipped Goat Cheese Filled Donuts by Lauren of For The Love Of Lasagna:

blackberry thime jam goat cheese donuts

Blackberry Soufflé via Waitrose:

blackberry souffle

Blackberry Sage Sorbet by Nguyet of Taming of the Spoon:

blackberry sage sorbet

Happy Weekend!

Fruzsi

Infusing Olive Oil

infusing olive oil

Herb season is in full swing and I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to preserve as much of the aroma of summer as I can. After herb butter, here’s another great way to do just that: making infused oils.

Create amazing flavors by mixing & matching your favorite spices, herbs and aromatics for a truly unique oil blend perfect for amping up salad dressings, drizzling over pasta and seafood, dipping bread into and so much more!

Before you start, it’s important that we talk about food safety. Although the oil itself will not, remaining traces of water in the aromatics might support bacterial growth, inducing a risk of botulism, a rare but very serious form of food poisoning. Clostridium botulinum bacteria are germs found in the soil and can survive, grow, and produce toxins in a sealed jar of food. Always sterilize your containers thoroughly and dry the herbs before using.

What kind of oil should be used? Any neutrally flavored oil will work fine, but olive oil is a natural choice since it complements a wide variety of flavors. There’s no need to splurge on the most expensive bottles, but using decent, good quality is always the way to go.

What should you infuse oil with? Garlic, chili peppers, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme and tarragon are my top suggestions. You will need about 2 tablespoons of flavoring per cup of oil.

There are two ways of making infused oils:

The cold process. Immerse the ingredients in the oil, seal the bottle and let sit in a cool, dark place. The oil will slowly infuse over time, picking up the flavor fairly quickly in the first few weeks, and then slowly intensifying. It is fine to leave the herbs in for a long time, eventually all the flavor leaves them and the oil flavor stabilizes.

The stovetop process. Heat the oil in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat with the spices (whole or ground) for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is lightly bubbling. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. This way the oil infuses quicker and the risk of bacterial growth is further reduced. Note that boiling affects the flavor and quality of the oil! Use a food thermometer (like this one) and keep temperature below boiling.

How to store? Keep flavored oils refrigerated and use up within a few months. Discard immediately if characteristics (smell, color, consistency) have changed in any way. When gifting flavored oils, include storage instructions as well as serving suggestions on a pretty label.

Love,

Fruzsi

Title image: ‘Healthy ingredients on a kitchen table’ by Valeria Aksakova via freepik

*Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link; I may get a commission for purchases made through it. Thank you for helping me earn a little something on the side!*

Friday Finds

Hello August, hello tomato season! Do you also have heirlooms passed down for generations through your family? Below are some tasty and equally beautiful ideas to use them (recipes by Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest)

Buttered Brie and Heirloom Tomato Toast with Honey, Thyme and Walnuts:

heirloom tomato toast

Heirloom Tomato Cheddar Tart with Everything Bagel Spice:

heirloom tomato tart

Tomato, Salami and Chunky Arugula-Basil Pesto Bruscetta:

tomato pesto bruscetta

Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini Galette with Honey and Thyme:

heirloom tomato galette

Quick Blasamic Fig Roasted Tomato and Burrata Cheese Tart:

tomato fig burrata tart

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

 

Eggs à la Chrissy & a Controversial Question, Answered

Ok so before everyone’s imaginary BFF Chrissy Teigen and her cookbook, let me address a question I am asked frequently, sometimes with thinly veiled hostility by fellow Hungarians – family, friends and strangers alike:

But why do you write in English?

The language of my blog was an intentional decision, reach being quite high on the list obviously. How about this as a demonstrative example: more people follow Chrissy’s Insta (which is required reading BTW!) than there are Hungarians in the whole wide world (duh!)

And then there’s this: I like writing in English (and hereby apologise for any grammar mistakes, typos and idioms used incorrectly). My language choice has had a most heartening effect on me – through food and the personal stories I post along the recipes, I am able to give a glimpse to non-Hungarians into our culture, the way of life here in the heart of Europe.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, moving on to today’s topic.

Chrissy is one of the most relatable celebrities out there. I absolutely adore her for a list of reasons: she’s got tons of personality – a supermodel with a refreshingly frank tone, being freaking hilarious and with an attitude towards food I can so relate to.

Her first cookbook Cravings – Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat was #1 best pre-seller on Amazon, an instant success. ICYMI, here’s my short review:

Yes, there is no shortage of celebrity cookbooks, so is it worth all the hype seems to be a valid question. Spoiler alert: it absolutely does! Cravings is lively and fun just like her, filled with enthusiasm and happiness.

It’s broken up into sections with witty titles and it’s studded with Aubrie Prick’s really pretty pictures. There are Thai recipes inspired by her mom, there’s a chapter on breakfast and a chapter on carbs and a chapter on toasts as well. No dish is too difficult; her recipes are accessible and un-fussy, in the realm of hearty comfort food.

I wanted to be honest in this book about the kinds of food I love, the kinds of food I crave she claims. Dear Chrissy, my husband says hi and thank you. Also thanks for liking my post on insta. It made my day, I really appreciate it!

1st recipe made from #cravingscookbook and it is soooo #delish 🍳☕️🍽🔝

A post shared by Fruzsina Farkas (@ffruzsina) on

Thumbs up for my brother-in-law as well for squeezing Cravings in the tiny carry-on allowed on board London-Budapest flights and hauling it all the way here as it wasn’t available in Hungary at the time.

I’m not really accustomed to feeding on crumbs from others’ tables, but this brunch recipe is perfect. I can hear you rolling eyes like those are just eggs but believe me when I say this is downright awesome. For me Cheesy Cheeseless Eggs justifies the purchase of the book by itself.

Although it’s supposed to be cheeseless, I still give them a good sprinkling of grated parmesan before serving and I have a strong feeling she wouldn’t find this move in poor taste. 🙂

As for the burst tomatoes, I make them in the oven, not in a skillet. While the temperature is rising to 200°C, I arrange the tomatoes with the stalks on in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then roast until tomatoes are blistered and a little shriveled.

I always did the bacon as Chrissy does: roasting in the oven too, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. No skillet means no oil splatters and undercooked parts. Seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and crushed garlic, it’s crisp and wonderful in under 15 min.

Make this meal for a lazy weekend breakfast and watch with undisguised satisfaction as your loved ones gulp it down!

Cheesy Cheeseless Scrambled Eggs

  • Time: 5+20 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A breakfast feast from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook. Serves 4.

Ingredients

12 eggs

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper until homogeneous.
  2. Heat oil and butter over low heat in a large, heavy bottomed skillet until butter is melted.
  3. Add egg mixture and cook, stirring slowly but constantly until curds form and eggs start to thicken, 10+ min. Remove from heat.

Good news: I hear a highly anticipated Cravings Part 2 is coming!

Love,

Fruzsi

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link; I may get a commission for purchases made through it. Thank you for helping me earn a little something on the side!

Friday Finds

Currently pretending I’m at the beach…

Naples, Florida (via Pinterest, source unknown):

beach grass

Wilmington, North Carolina (via Style Me Pretty, photo by Millie Holloman)

beach grass

Komos Beach, Crete (photo by Eleni of My Paradissi):

beach grass

Cape Cod, Massachusetts (via Pinterest, source unknown)

beach grass

Cornwall, United Kingdom (via Flickr, photo by Mike Stimpson):

beach grass

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

balsamic reduction sauce

Hmm, balsamic vinegar. Either you absolutely love it or hate it, there’s no other way around the matter. You could probably guess which side I’m on based on the fact this post is bearing the name in the title.

This aged elixir of grapes is known since the Middle Ages. Highly valued by chefs and increasingly popular in everyday cooking, balsamic vinegar is not only the base component of my favorite vinaigrette and marinades, but is great as a glaze, brings the flavors nicely together in soups and sauces, and definitely a partner in crime when braising.

My latest obsession is Crema di Balsamico, a thick, sweet-and-sour syrup over, well, a great many things actually. My go-to used to be Deluxe Crema di Balsamico and Italiamo Crema con Aceto Balsamico di Modena from Lidl. A real treat, I can only recommend both. I’ve always found the price a bit steep for those tiny bottles, but a girl has to splurge occasionally, isn’t that so?

You’ve recognized I used past tense though. The reason being, my current idée fixe just got cheaper. I was reading a recipe the other day which called for reducing a sauce instead of a classic roux, and you know what? Turns out the same thickening method is used to make balsamic sauce.

I had two bottles of the less expensive supermarket own brand Acetino (also IGP – Indicazione Geografica Protetta of Modena) in my pantry, so I’ve decided to give homemade Crema di Balsamico a go. And guess what, it is amazing! That rich, sweet, complex taste… still tangy but not offensively acidic at all.

Even the first batch turned out so good I found myself licking fingers to save every last drop from the pan. Now that I’ve acquired the know-how, I have a long list of dishes both sweet and savory in mind I want to drizzle with my very own balsamic reduction. And since I’m not one to keep knowledge like this to myself, here’s how you can make it too:

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

  • Time: 1 h
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A sweet glaze with a lovely complex flavor.

Ingredients

500 ml (2 cups) balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring vinegar and sugar to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, stir occasionally.
  3. When half of the liquid has evaporated (somewhere around 45 min to 1 hour), your sauce is ready.
  4. Let cool to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container. No need to refrigerate.

It should outlive all of us, but only if you forget where you kept it. Otherwise it will be gone very soon.

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Image via The Creative Bite

Friday Finds

Don’t know about your neck of the woods, but it’s properly scorching here: we are experiencing the worst heat wave yet of Summer ’17. In these conditions it is essential to stay hydrated and nutritious cantaloupes with their 90% water content are at your service! Although melons are no substitute for drinking plenty of water, the following refreshing recipes could only help in surviving the harsh temps. Enjoy!

Cantaloupe and Cardamom Granita by Sasha of Tending the Table:

cantaloupe cardamom granita

Cantaloupe Melon and Kiwi Agua Fresca by Gerry of Foodness Gracious:

cantaloupe kiwi agua fresca

Cantaloupe Coconut Lime Sorbet by Lily of Kale and Caramel:

cantaloupe coconut lime sorbet

Cantaloupe Margaritas by Megan of Country Cleaver:

cantaloupe margaritas

Cantaloupe, Lime and Mint Slushy by Sukaina of Sips and Spoonfuls:

cantaloupe lime mint slushy

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi