Roasted Tomato, Chickpea and Vodka Soup (Guest Post by The Kitchen Crusader)

Today I have the first of the delicious guest posts which my awesome blogging friends were kind enough to contribute! This one comes from Heather at The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader - if you haven't checked out her blog yet then you should jump over and have a browse, she comes up with some seriously awesome and inventive ideas! Thanks Heather for contributing this soup recipe!

Roasted Tomato, Chickpea and Vodka Soup

Yeah, that's right, it's a soup with vodka in it. Look, in case that freaks you out, it's not exactly compulsory vodka, but it does enhance the flavours of the dish. Vodka is often used with tomatoes in dishes, it marries well with the fresh zestiness and adds an interesting depth of “savoury-ness.” I first discovered the wonder that is vodkas and tomatoes not, as you may think, in a Bloody Mary, but rather in Rachel Grisewood's cookbook Manna from Heaven. That cookbook is full of the kinds of cooking I adore, unusual flavour combinations that teach a cook a lot about how flavours work and how to think about them differently. Grisewald's “Absolut Tomatoes” recipe is still one of my Summer dinner party favourites, it takes little effort and not much vodka, leaving plenty for cocktails with dinner.

During Summer tomatoes are abundant at my local farmer's market, so much so that I purchased a 10kg box of tomatoes for $10. This recipe is designed for tomato season, for when we can get tomatoes at great prices and in great quantities. It might seem a little mean, then, that I'm posting this recipe at the start of Winter, when tomato season is quite far off and soups are staple fare... but put this baby away in your memory banks. I promise come next tomato season, you'll be thanking me.

Serves 4 (depending on serving sizes, of course)

2 kg tomatoes, washed and halved (no need to remove the tops/core)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper
2 tbsp vodka
1 small bunch of well washed and roughly chopped silverbeet or English spinach
1 400g can of chickpeas, drained (or 1 cup of dried chickpeas, rehydrated)
parsley or some “poor man's parmesan*” to serve

*poor man's parmesan is just bread, crumbed roughly, fried in a pan with some olive oil and salt until is crispy and crunchy and golden brown. If you have never tried this, you need to remedy the situation... plus it's the kind of vegan fare I love, the kind that ANYONE, vegan or not can enjoy and drool over. It's also great with pasta.

1)Preheat oven to 180C.
2)Place the halved tomatoes in a large baking dish, scatter with garlic. Drizzle the olive oil over the top, sprinkle with sugar and salt.
3)Toss to coat the tomatoes in oil.
4)Bake the tomatoes for 1 and a half to 2 hours, they should be cooked through and browning on the edges.
5)Blitz the tomatoes, their juices and the garlic in a blender or food processor with the vodka, silverbeet/spinach and half of the chickpeas. This will probably need to happen in batches. Blend until the soup reaches your desired consistency.
6)Reheat the soup in a pot on the stove and add the remaining chickpeas while this occurs.

7)Serve hot, topped with the parsley or poor man's parmesan (or both). Some toasted crusty garlic bread would also be lovely with it. 

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