Monday, January 17, 2011

Tomato Vodka Soup

'Tis the season for soup!

And the season for my immersion blender to finally shine. Did you notice that I also used it in my Chicken Tinga post?

In addition to trying to use my neglected kitchen tools, I was really in the mood for a warm, earthy soup. Especially in light of the fact that there are still several inches of snow covering the ground here in Hoboken, NJ.

I was really interested in making some sort of tomato soup. I don't know why. I get cravings. I just go with it. So tomato soup it was.

I wanted to add a twist and I thought of Penne a la Vodka. No, I wasn't going to make any penne, but it made me think of adding vodka to the soup. Of course, I believed that this was an ingenious, never-before-attempted idea...until I searched online and found several thousand other recipes.

"I'm unique. Just like everybody else."

I was still undeterred from making this soup. So I got to it and found two recipes I wanted to use. I ended up with a combination of a Creamy Tomato Vodka Soup from the Rachael Ray magazine and a Sherried Tomato Soup from the Pioneer Woman.

Unfortunately, it seems that I haven't learned anything from my first few blog posts. You know, those ones where I couldn't read recipes very well. It appears that Rachael's blog post requires a 5-hour slow cooker treatment. Yeah right, like I have 5 hours to wait for some soup. I want it now! Some improvisations had to be made.

And I ended up with this:

Tomato-Vodka Soup
adapted from Rachael Ray's Creamy Tomato Vodka Soup & the Pioneer Woman's Sherried Tomato Soup
makes 8-10 servings
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 to 3 small cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • One 32-ounce container (4 cups) vegetable broth
  • Two 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup citrus vodka (or regular vodka)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • several sprigs oregano leaves
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • Salt & pepper to taste
1) Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions.

2) Saute the onions for ~15 minutes. You only want the onions to begin caramelizing. You don't want them to caramelize all the way.

3) Add the garlic and stir to prevent burning, about 2 minutes.

4) Add the broth, chopped tomatoes (along with the tomato broth in the can), tomato sauce, vodka, salt, and sugar to the pot. Stir to combine.

5) Cover and simmer the soup over medium/high heat for ~1 hour. Stir periodically.

6) Chop the basil and oregano leaves. Add the herbs to the pot.

7) Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender) to puree the soup. You can choose to make it as smooth or as chunky as you like.

8) Let the soup simmer, uncovered, for another 45 minutes. You may need to simmer the soup for more or less time so that you get the consistency you like.

9) Stir in the half-and-half.

10) Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes on the use of citrus vodka in this recipe. Someone thought that since my roommate and I had recently had a holiday party, we would probably have some vodka left over in the booze stash. We usually have vodka on hand and since we don't go through it very quickly and I only needed 1/4 cup, I knew I could safely pass on a trip to the liquor store. And who would that someone be? You guessed it. It was me. And what happened when I gathered the ingredients to make this soup? Again, you're right. There was no vodka in the stash. But what we did have was citrus vodka. After a few moments of thought (in which time I could have walked to the nearby liquor store and returned), I decided to just go with the citrus vodka. After all, it was freezing outside.

Once the soup was done, I could actually taste little tangy citrus notes from the vodka. I'm not sure whether or not I liked it, but I didn't dislike it. If you're a huge fan of citrus, maybe you can test this out as well and let me know your thoughts. Overall, the soup was great though! Each spoonful was a mixture of rich, creamy tomato broth and thick, chunky tomato pieces. The addition of the herbs made the soup even more aromatic. I'll take this soup any day over those canned versions. Can I have another bowl, please?

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