Saturday, December 11, 2010

Poached Mozzarella and Tomato Soup over Grilled Curry Bread

I've been swamped catering party after party and haven't had the time to post so many tried and true holiday favorites. In the next few days, I'll be posting those festive foods I've been preparing along with our Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner menus as well as an interesting economic-based party trend many of my clients are hosting this season. But first I want to share with you this soup recipe I prepared during the height of the catering frenzy for our former neighbor who was in town visiting family and friends.

This meal in a bowl is simple, festive, unique and bursting with flavor. A glorified grilled cheese that is a variation on the comfort food childhood classic, grilled cheese and tomato soup. Remember those fabulous lunches at grandma’s when you dipped your grilled cheese sandwich into a bowl of tomato soup? Flash forward a couple of decades with Poached Mozzarella and Tomato Soup over Grilled Curry Bread. A wonderfully harmonious combination of flavors that always receives a “WOW" ... on this cold winter day over lunch and in front of the roaring fire we reminisced about childhood days, the fun times we had when we were neighbors and in between bites we "WOWED" the soup!

Helpful to know: I highly recommend using MUIR GLEN® Organic tomatoes. No synthetic pesticides, no chemical fertilizers, "just gorgeous tomato taste, true to nature." Allow time for butter to soften but if you forget to remove it from the refrigerator ahead of time, use a V-shaped vegetable peeler to thinly shave it. This makes the butter much easier to blend and spread. Ciabatta (pronounced cha-BAH-tah) bread is an airy, holey bread that grills beautifully and can be found in the bakery section of most grocery stores nationwide.

Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 cup onion, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes

4 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon salt

¼ - ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, according to your preference for spicy

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over moderate heat; add onion and garlic, sauté until onion is transparent. Add tomatoes, sugar, oregano, basil, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for about ½ hour.

Grilled Curry Bread

2 teaspoons curry powder

4-6 tablespoons butter, softened

Eight ½-inch slices ciabatta bread

Canola oil for skillet

In a small bowl, combine curry powder and butter, mix until well blended. On a sheet of parchment paper, lay out 8 slices of bread. Spread butter mixture evenly over both sides of each slice. Cover the bottom of a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan with canola oil. Heat pan over moderately high heat, add slices of bread (in batches of 3-4) and grill on each side until golden.

Poached Mozzarella

Eight ¼-inch slices mozzarella cheese

While bread is grilling, place 3-4 slices of mozzarella (same number as pieces of bread in the skillet) on top of the tomato soup in the large pot; cheese should not be overlapping. Cover soup for a few minutes so cheese can soften; cheese should keep its shape. Transfer grilled bread slices to shallow bowls. Carefully lift each slice of mozzarella from tomato soup with a flat-bottomed slotted spoon and place on top of bread slice. Repeat bread grilling/cheese poaching process until all bread and mozzarella slices are cooked. Ladle tomato soup over each mozzarella topped slice of bread, drizzle olive oil over contents of each bowl. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.