Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

We have a WINNER for this week’s Mystery Lovers Kitchen contest! And that winner’s name will be announced very soon!!

Happy Fall (sort of)

I’m very excited to be the first person to post in September. I know it isn’t technically Fall yet, but here in the Chicago area the temperatures have been ridiculously low, and with the kids back at school it’s feeling very Autumn-like to me. I’ve always loved this time of year.

I was one of those oddballs who was excited about each new school year. I couldn’t wait to browse through the textbooks (can you say “nerd”?) and wonder about what projects might be planned for that year. All through grammar, high school, and college I always, always enjoyed the beginning of school and was thrilled by the possibilities it held. To this day, a crisp fall day brings back all those feelings, that great sense of possibility. Good thing, because I'm about to embark on a new manuscript :-)

Okay, back to the recipe and today’s “food” posting…

Fall means soup to me. Yum. And, if you remember, I was hoping to recreate two appetizers from a wonderful downtown Chicago dinner. (Update – the mushroom appetizer recipe I posted a week ago, though unsuccessful atop croissants, was *exceptional* when used as a sauce over a beef roast at dinner the next evening. I will use this recipe over and over. It’s a keeper!) You may also recall that my oven died. It’s now fixed (hooray!), but I didn’t need it to create the tomato-gorgonzola soup recipe I’m about to share.

I have to admit, my tomato-gorgonzola is not nearly as good as the one at Marche restaurant. I’m going to have to tweak it, but for now, here are my two offerings:
Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

Option #1 – the more intricate version

3 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
9 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 c heavy cream
1/3 lb. gorgonzola cheese
2 T fresh chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, fry onions in olive oil until soft, not brown. Add in tomatoes and basil and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the mixture is more soup than solid. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until all the chunks are gone. Return mixture to the pot, add cream, and turn heat to low.

Add cheese to the pot, a little at a time. Simmer the soup for about another 30 minutes until the cheese is fully blended into the mixture.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped chives.

Option #2 – the much, much easier version

1 can of Campbell’s Tomato Bisque (Hey, my fictional president’s name is Harrison Campbell, so I figured, What the heck! :::grin:::)
1 soup can full of heavy cream
2 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 T fresh chives, chopped
1/8 lb gorgonzola cheese

Heat soup according to package directions, using cream instead of water. Simmer, then add basil and gorgonzola. Heat through until gorgonzola is well blended. Serve, garnished with fresh chives.

You know that the White House Chef often arranges for taste-tests for the First Lady before official functions, right? Well, I decided to hold my own taste-test here at home with my two tomato soup versions. The lighter colored one is the version made with fresh tomatoes. The darker one is Campbell’s based.

We tried them side-by-side and no one in the family knew which was which except me.

The hands down winner?

The fresh-tomato version was tasty, but a little light on body. Too soupy and thin. I think I need to try this again (much later. We’re tomato-souped out right about now), using more tomatoes and allowing them to stew much longer.

The gorgonzola didn’t blend with either version as easily as I expected. Maybe Avery can suggest a better cheese to use that might deliver the flavor of gorgonzola, but melt at a lower temperature? In either case, this was a great experiment. We enjoyed both versions, and I’m happy about the attempt.

If you have any great soup recipes, please be sure to send them my way. You can always reach me via my website, or e-mail me at JulieHyzy (at) aol. (dot) com.

Hope you enjoy!

Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime.

Sign up for Julie’s newsletter on her website at http://www.juliehyzy.com/

Don't forget to enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to MysteryLoversKitchen@gmail.com We announce the winners right here every week.


  1. Sounds good. We love soups at our house and easy is good. Not exactly a low cal recipe, but yum. Will have to copy this and the mushroom recipe.
    Fall can't come soon enough!

  2. I've never made fresh tomato soup but this sounds great. Hmm, there must be some trick to working with the Gorgonzola. Averrry . . .

  3. A long time ago, someone told me to get more flavor out of tomatoes, even in the summer, was to roast them in the oven. It is an extra step to your soup but, it might add more depth of flavor.

    Would the crock pot be good for your recipe? I'm still playing with mine and working on recipes.

  4. Hi librarypat - I know I need to start looking for healthier recipes to try ... I think I'm enjoying some of these a little too much ;-) but I *highly* recommend the mushroom appetizer, but as a sauce. Mmmm...

    Krista - I know the soup I loved at the restaurant included gorgonzola. I just never expected it to remain so chunky even when heated (for a long time!)

    ThatBrunette - I never thought about roasting the tomatoes. That does sound like a great idea. I'll try it next time. And maybe I'll try the crock pot, too. I don't use it nearly enough and I believe it would be a good idea for this recipe. Thanks!

  5. My mother made Campbell's tomato soup with milk instead of water when I was a kid and I still get a craving for it! The gorgonzola sounds delicious. Maybe a combo of the the Campbell's and some sundried tomatoes?

  6. I love the way you made both the recipes and the easier one won out! It's SO RARE that happens. I'm inspired to go to the store and get the ingredients for the easy one. I can pretend it feels like fall here. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  7. Okay, you've given me a challenge. I'll work with this and see what other cheese might work or how better to use gorgonzola. I love a challenge. Especially a tasty one at that!


  8. Hi Janel - good idea. I might try combining the two versions to see what happens. I love experimenting.

    Elizabeth - I know! I was shocked (and secretly pleased). Easy recipes are the best because they're the ones I'll use again and again.

    Avery - Have at it, girlfriend! ;-)


  9. Fall IS a great time for soup. I love that you did a taste test and the Campbell's won. LOL! You sold me on the easy version, and I love the taste of gorgonzola. (We're bleu cheese nuts in this house.) Thanks for another fun recipe!!

    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

  10. Hmm... bleu cheese... Cleo maybe that's what I'll work with next time! I just had some of Option 1 soup for lunch today. Even though it came in second best, it was still pretty good.


  11. I'm not surprised that the Campbell's was better. As much as I love my husband's garden tomatoes, when I use them to make spaghetti sauce I find that the sauce comes out too watery. Your soup recipe sounds luscious...and you certainly can't go wrong with gorgonzola!

  12. Tried this recipe today, (tweaked it a bit) - it's delish! I roasted, then pureed, fresh local 'Jet Star' tomatoes with garlic and seasonings, carmelized some red onion, used Gorgonzola crumbles, and finished in the crockpot, adding fresh oregano and basil. Will be making this often, thanks!