A good recipe much like a great marriage is all about communication. Bet you're wondering where I'm going with this aren't you. Hang with me and I'll get there eventually, I promise.
Last night's bowl of sunny tomato soup was a perfect dinner solution on a misty foggy rainy beach Saturday. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining at all about the weather because I was feeling all cozy and warm in our wonderful house and after 10 years of living with desert heat, I may never complain about cool rainy weather again. Just sayin'.
Anyway, the soup's from Cinda Chavich's book, High Plains, The Joy of Alberta Cuisine and while great as written, I had to make a couple of changes to suit our sensibilities if you know what I mean. I added more flour to the roux because we like a thicker soup and upped the tomato quotient too with the addition of a can of diced plum tomatoes with their juice. I also used a mixture of whole milk and half and half rather than 2 percent which made for a richer finish. Now I'm telling you, the soup takes about 15 minutes to prepare and it's fabulous with its touch of garlic and slew of chewy sun dried tomatoes but the real kicker's the "basil potato dumplings". That's where we had our first lesson of the day in communication.
Cinda calls these incredibly light little pillows Basil Potato Dumplings but I'd be inclined to call 'em gnocchi instead except they're absolutely the lightest most flavorful gnocchi I've ever made and that's the honest truth. Unfortunately her instructions didn't specify to cool the potatoes so I made the dumplings with potatoes fresh from the ricer and consequently, it took a lot more flour to make a dough than the recipe specified. Fortunately, in spite of myself, they were still light as air but had I done my homework I'd have likely used Anne Burrell's method for her "Light As A Cloud Gnocchi" and saved myself some fretting. There was a bonus though - the additional flour meant more dumplings which was a very, very good thing as you're about to witness.
On the to second example of communication. Big Guy's mostly in charge of taking photo's for this blog and yours truly normally does the settin' up; however, last night I dished up a bowl of soup, asked him to add the dumplings and gussy it up for the picture and this was the result.
Not his fault because I didn't communicate the method of gussiness, so I did the honors and this is the second photo.
Now in case you're wondering, the soup is absolutely without question far superior to the canned version and the dumplings are the icing on top. As proof what you're looking at next is Big Guy's 2nd serving. He did not communicate to me the necessity of a larger bowl and the result wasn't just this overflowing prissy little bowl, but 2 more after it.
Guess I could have just taken my bowl, given him the pot and saved having to wash a soup bowl, huh!
Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil Potato Dumplings (from JBug’s kitchen Antics adapted from High Plains, The Joy of Alberta Cuisine by Cinda Chavich)
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 – 10 ounce can beef consommé or beef broth
1/4 cup white wine
1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups half and half
Salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Melt butter in a medium large saucepan and stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes until mixture is a light golden color. Gradually whisk in beef consommé, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and garlic. Cook, stirring often for 5 minutes. Stir in milk and half and half and heat gently. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and red pepper flakes as needed.
Basil Potato Dumplings:
1 pound Yukon Gold or Russet (Idaho) potatoes, peeled and boiled
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus additional for garnish
Butter, coarse salt and pepper, light grating of parmesan cheese
Please note – I’ve adjusted the method. Put boiled potatoes through a ricer onto a sheet pan and cool to room temperature. Carefully move them to a bowl but try to keep them as fluffy as possible. Stir in egg yolks, flour and chopped basil. Add more flour if necessary to make relatively firm dough. On a floured board, roll dough into a long rope then cut into half inch pieces. Cook in boiling water in batches so as not to crowd the pot. Dumplings are done when they float to the top (about 2 to 3 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and move to a bowl. Dot with butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper and grated parmesan cheese. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.
To serve soup, ladle into bowls and garnish with dumplings. Garnish with basil, red pepper flakes and grated parmesan cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
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