Food & Wine Magazine: Mar Cover Recipe

Chunky Tomato Soup with Potato Croutons & Fennel-Orange Gremolata, served with Spinach Salad with Citrus & Roasted Beets

Rating: 4 out of 5 (intense combination of flavours, but tasted very fresh & exciting)

Initial Thoughts: I want the fireplace included in the cover photo. Oh wait – I’m supposed to be here for the food…

The Test: At first I wondered how best to approach this particular cover as it is part of a section that includes a variety of soups with mix-and-match topping options, along with a number of side dishes and salads. In the end I opted to make the Chunky Tomato Soup with Potato Croutons and Fennel-Orange Gremolata, along with the Spinach Salad with Citrus and Roasted Beets. These recipes seemed to be the most prominent ones in the photo, and were also highlighted in the cover text.

Soup and salad. Easy peasy, right? Not in this case! But the level of culinary involvement was pretty obvious given the impressive title of each recipe, so I wasn’t surprised that this meal was quite time consuming. Be warned that there are many steps involved, resulting in this meal having a difficulty level that hovers around medium.

The potato croutons and gremolata both came together easily, and the smell of the fennel fronds with the parsley and orange zest smelled amazing; full of fresh flavour that instantly brightened my kitchen. As for the soup, this was a fairly typical recipe involving sautéing the vegetables prior to adding the tomatoes and reducing the entirety for a couple hours. I was intrigued by the idea of only puréeing half of the soup, ensuring a few chunks are left.

When preparing the salad, be sure to leave enough time to roast the beets which as my two-year old pointed out “takes really REALLY long time so I can eat”. But while you are waiting there are lots of other things to be done; such as pickling the red onion and peeling the pith and sectioning the tangerines and grapefruit.

The Results: Overall I enjoyed this meal, although in terms of flavours there was a lot going on. In the end I found the acidic tomatoes were too much in conjunction with the citrus and vinegar in the salad, although I would definitely consider making each recipe again albeit separately.

Mr. Spock and I both loved the suggested toppings for the soup, the utilization of potatoes a fun play off of traditional croutons. The herbaceousness of the gremolata was a bright and fresh addition that plated up beautifully. However, the acidic nature of a pure tomato based soup played havoc with our stomachs. So the next day I pureed the entire soup (half chunky didn’t do it for me folks) and added a generous amount of cream into the mix, sprinkled some grated smoked cheddar cheese on top along with the other toppings and wow – perfection.

The salad had a lot of different competing flavours that worked together but in an aggressive manner that wasn’t altogether unpleasing. Wow. Did I really just write that?! It almost sounds as if I know what I’m talking about. The mustard dressing was full of flavour but simple, which worked well. Lord knows there were enough other things going on in the salad. I loved the pickled onion which had a nice bite from the vinegar but without the overpowering raw onion taste, and the mellow beets rounded the whole thing out nicely.

As mentioned in previous posts, I am not a huge soup fan. That being said, there are a number of other recipes included in this issue’s big soup section that I am excited to try: White Bean Stew served with Sautéed Mustard Greens and Garlic Mayo, Classic Split Pea Soup with Parsley Pistou, Onion Rings and Crispy Bacon, and Silky Cauliflower Soup with seared Scallops, Herb Salad and Dijon-Roasted Cauliflower? Heck yeah.

Recipes:
Chunky Tomato Soup
Pan-Fried Potato Croutons
Fennel-Orange Gremolata
Spinach Salad with Citrus and Roasted Beets

As part of my culinary New Year’s resolutions, I have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Food & Wine Magaine.

NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with me and join in on the fun, I’d love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to info@cookthatbook.com.

The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit www.foodandwine.com