Showing posts with label tomato bisque. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomato bisque. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

HUSBAND vs WIFE: Cleo Coyle asks, "Is it a Sauce or a Soup?"

So I was cleaning out the refrigerator—an interesting exercise in culinary archeology—and I mentioned to my husband, Marc, that I’d found six whole tomatoes in the crisper, and they were in no shape for a salad or garnish. "I hate to throw them out, so if you want to do something with them, be my guest..."

Cleo ponders a solution to her
overripe tomatoes.
(BTW, these weren't them.)
An hour later, sitting at my laptop, my concentration was broken by an enticing scent. I followed the aromatic breadcrumbs to find my six-foot husband bent over a steaming pot. "It’s a sauce but it’s pretty loose," he said. "I was about to thicken it with a can of tomato paste."

I tasted it and shook my head. "You don’t need tomato paste because you’ve made an amazing tomato soup here, not a sauce." Then he tasted it and shook his head. "It’s not soup yet, but it could be." I agreed. "Especially if you cream it!"

Another half hour ticked by. When I sampled the soup again, it tasted even better.


Cleo Coyle, who says "tomato"
and "tom-ah-to," writes The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
in collaboration with her
husband, Marc

"I think it’s more of a chowder or a stew than a soup," my husband now insisted. "Whatever you want to call it, the stuff is great,” I replied. And the best part of this story is that you, dear reader, do not have to take my word for it. You can try the recipe for yourself. . . .

Cleo Coyle's
Bacon and
Tomato Bisque

Makes about 6 servings

To download a free PDF of
this recipe that you can print,
save, or share, click here.


5 slices bacon, chopped
¼ pound ground sausage (we use Jimmy Dean Original)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
2 yellow onions, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 tablespoon oregano
¼ teaspoon crushed red peppers
6 large tomatoes, cleaned and chopped
1 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
1 cup water
¼ cup heavy cream

STEP 1 - PRIME THE POT: Sauté the bacon in a five quart pot. When the bacon is browned, add the sausage and break it up. When the pork is browned add salt, the ground black pepper, and the garlic cloves (whole). Cook until the outside of the garlic begins to look clear, about 3 to 5 minutes.

STEP 2 - ADD THE VEGETABLES: Stir in the diced onions and carrots, and the chopped celery. Cook over medium heat until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

STEP 3 - SPICE PLUS TOMATOES: Add the oregano and crushed red pepper, stir well and cook for another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir the pot. Finally add the stock and the water. Stir as the ingredients come to a boil. Cover loosely and simmer over a low heat for about thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.

STEP 4 - CREAM IT: For added richness, add heavy cream (or half-and-half) after thirty minutes and simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes. (To cut back on the fat and calories, milk will work, too.)

Serve hot with crackers or crusty bread and...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:


Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.

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

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 We announce the winners right here every week.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Joyeux Noel

Contest Update...

Before I get started, I'd like to remind everyone that we will be announcing the newest winner in our Williams-Sonoma gift card contest very soon. Carol won the first week, and Rebecca won the second week. Who will be our lucky reader this week? Stay tuned to find out! ;-) And don't forget to leave a comment below (or via e-mail if the comment-leaving doesn't work) to be entered into this week's drawing for a $25 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card!

Best of luck!

In a bit of a departure from the norm here, rather than share a recipe with you, I'd like to share an experience and ask for your help.

The "headline" for this post is

Joyeux Noel

As you know, this is French for Merry Christmas. No, I'm not starting my cookie baking early ;-) But I am celebrating.

After being married for ::ahem:: years, gift-giving becomes difficult. What do you give your spouse during traditional celebrations that you haven't already given a hundred times? My husband put it succinctly when he told me: "You're so hard to buy for because you're not much of a flower or jewelry girl. You're a food girl." He's totally right. Take me out for a stellar dinner, and I'm in heaven. I love going out. And although the food is a major consideration, it's all about the experience.

So, for Christmas 2008 we decided to forgo the same-old, same-old, and decided that our gift to one another would be to try out a *new* restaurant every month. We have our favorites, of course (stories for another time), but we intended to stretch ourselves and seek out places we never knew existed. We alternate months and my husband picked his six choices right at the start. I decided to choose my six one at a time. This has been loads of fun! Every month we find ourselves at a brand new restaurant, clinking our glasses together and wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

This past Saturday, August 15th, was my month and after seeing Julie and Julia during the week, I was inspired to seek out French cuisine.

Marche restaurant is on Randolph Street in an area of Chicago known as the West Loop. Back when I was going to college in Chicago, I would have taken great pains to avoid this area but now I can't wait to get back there to try out some of the other nifty places I spotted. The neighborhood is vibrant, exciting, and up-and-coming, helped in no small part, I'm sure, by the presence of Oprah's Harpo studios, just a few steps away.

This is the view looking east on Randolph.

The restaurant is spacious and airy. Upside-down umbrellas (parapluie) dot the tall ceiling, while masks, mirrors, and Harlequin characters decorate the walls. The tables are on several different levels and the service is cheerful and attentive. But wow - the food. We split two appetizers: their "beautiful soup of the day," a tomato-gorgonzola-olive oil-basil-chive concoction which took my breath away; and a Voul-au-vent des Champignons - a puff pastry with mushrooms. "What is that flavor?" I kept asking my husband. We tried to decide which of the two we liked better, but could not. This was *exquisite* food.

Next came the entrees. Having just seen Julie and Julia, I'd intended to order Boeuf Borguignone, but alas it wasn't on the menu. I opted for Coq au Vin. The chicken was very good (maybe a tad dry), but my husband's Braised pork shoulder over cabbage was beyond description. I wish I would have ordered that. Maybe next time ;-)

For dessert we shared a chocolate trio (flourless chocolate cake, orange ice cream in a crispy chocolate shell, and chocolate-raspberry mousse) and decided that -- clearly -- of the 8 restaurants we've visited so far this year, Marche is our new favorite.

That's me after dinner, taking my leftover Coq au Vin home. There was nothing left of anything else ;-)

See that contented look on my face? It masks the determination I'm now experiencing in my desire to recreate the tomato bisque and the mushroom appetizers at home.

Here's where I need your help.

I'll bet many of you out there have made one or both of these appetizers. If you have, and if you know of similar recipes, please, please share! I can tell from all the great comments and e-mails we receive that we have an amazing group of foodies out there and I hope to draw on this vast collection of knowledge.

Sure I can call the restaurant and ask. But isn't this way more fun?

I plan to start experimenting soon -- any and all help will be appreciated. If you like, leave a comment below to direct me to a link (this will enter you in our contest, natch), or just e-mail me directly at JulieHyzy (at) AOL (dot) com or via my website

Thanks so much!!


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