Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup and Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges, Lemon, Dill, and Cress

I am telling you, Michael Symon is winning my heart with his big flavours. This week we enjoyed his Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup, made with Sriracha hot sauce and creamy, pungent blue cheese. This was an elegant soup to serve but very daring in flavour. Not for the faint of heart - we loved it.
We also tried his Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges, Lemon, Dill, and Cress, a light and crunchy salad with citrus and anise flavours. The key to the salad is to shave the fennel very thin - you will need a mandoline or it will just be too thick. We did enjoy this salad, it is light and crunchy with unique flavour, but I have to say the soup was my favourite.

Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup
Recipe courtesy Michael Symon, Leite's

There’s always an exception to every rule, and my tomato soup is it. It’s one soup that can be made all year round because canned San Marzanos are consistently good. This is a dish, God, I’ve been making it since my time at Players nearly twenty years ago. It’s so easy and so delicious that it was my long-time chef Frankie Rogers’ go-to soup, the get-myself-out-of-the-weeds soup. San Marzano tomatoes, some aromatic vegetables, sriracha sauce (one of my favorite condiments, available in most supermarkets in the ethnic aisle and in Asian markets) for heat, and blue cheese for richness. It comes together in no time.—Michael Symon

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 heavy cream
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (I used dill)
1/2 cup Roth Käse Buttermilk Blue Cheese (see Note)

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 the onions for 2 minutes.

2. 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.

3. Pour the tomato soup into a blender, add the blue cheese, and blend until smooth, working in batches if needed. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and reheat to serve.

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

Note: If Roth Käse is unavailable, substitute a rich and creamy blue cheese.

Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges, Lemon, Dill and Cress
Recipe courtesy Michael Symon, Food

1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot thinly sliced, soaked cold water for 10 minutes, and drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 orange, zested and juiced
2 small or 1 large bulb fennel, core removed and shaved
1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
3 oranges segmented
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon toasted and coarsely ground coriander seed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ounce watercress (I used arugula)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, shallot, salt, lemon zest and juice, and the orange zest and juice. Fold in the shaved fennel, fennel fronds and dill. Toss to coat. Add the orange segments, a few grindings of black pepper, coriander, olive oil and watercress. Toss gently and plate ingredients, spoon additional dressing over each portion.

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