Wednesday, April 4, 2012

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Tomato-Vodka Soup with Kale Pesto

Perfect partner: pulled pork.
I broke out my white pants for the first time today. It's a little premature, I'm aware—any good Southern girl would wait until after Easter to wear her whites. But I live in the Northeast now, and it's still cold outside. White pants reassure me that spring is here, even if the weather refuses to agree. 

      That said, I'm not ready to give up my favorite cold-weather food: soup. My partiality to soup is partly laziness—I love to make a big batch, then eat it for lunch all week. But I also love that I can work vegetables into something that tastes so indulgent. As you'd guess, I'm a fan of classic tomato soup—there's no better vessel for veggies—but even better is tomato-vodka soup. It has an extra layer of robust, smoky flavor that rounds out the crisp taste of tomatoes. You don't even need crackers—it's that satisfying. 

    For a little freshness (since it is spring), I whipped up a batch of kale pesto to throw on top. I've been on a pesto kick lately—I can't get enough pesto pizza—and I'm semi-addicted to kale chips. So I combined the two. One word: primo. 

Tomato-Vodka Soup
Adapted from the Rachael Ray Show

What you need
1 contain chicken stock (32 oz)
A handful of sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 cup vodka (I used Smirnoff)
1 can crushed Italian tomatoes (28 oz)
1 cup heavy cream
Smoked paprika

Put it all together

  1. Pour 1 ½ cups of the stock into a small saucepan. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat, simmering until the tomatoes soften, about 6 minutes.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper, and cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the vodka, allowing it to reduce for 1 minute, then add the crushed tomatoes. Let the soup thicken for 15 to 18 minutes, stirring every few minutes. 
  4. Add the rest of the stock, as well as the sun-dried tomato stock. Puree with an immersion blender (or in a food processor), bring it back to a bubble, and mix in the cream. Top with a teaspoon of pesto and a pinch of smoked paprika before serving
Kale Pesto 
From Southern Living

What you need
2 cups chopped fresh kale, firmly packed
2 garlic cloves
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 tsp lemon zest
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Put it all together

  1. Boil the kale in salted water until tender, about 6 minutes. Then plunge the leaves into ice water, so they don't continue cooking.
  2. Process the garlic in a food processor until finely ground. Add kale, olive oil, and red pepper, then chop for 2 to 3 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients. 


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