These past few weeks have been INSANE.
A whirlwind of Ramadan things, way too many shifts at work, writing recipes for a new upcoming website (announcement will come soon!) and not nearly enough sleep, I can honestly say I have never been busier. And NOT in a good way. I feel so out of balance and overwhelmed, which is never a place I want to be. Also, as you may have noticed, with all this going on, I have had ZERO time to do anything blog related…which sucks BIG time, since it is what I love doing most.
So yes…I haven’t been a very happy cookie. I feel like I seriously need to take a step back and reprioritise, recharge and redirect.
Also, it’s been SO cold down here! I know I know, I live in Sydney, which isn’t exactly known for it’s snowstorms lol. I’m sure I sound like a total wuss to anyone from say Canada or Minnesota (I honestly don’t know how you guys survive winter, I would wither away into a hollow shell of depression and self pity if I have to withstand sub zero weather for more than 3 days), but I just do not function in the cold. I blame my Egyptian roots. I basically have sunshine and warmth running through my veins.
So with this weather, I can’t get enough of soups. Also, curries, pastas and basically ALL the carbs, cheese and sugar. But let’s stick to soups for now.
I like to call this soup ‘pizza soup’. It is pretty much all the flavours of a classic pizza margherita in soup form. Are you sold yet? Need I say more?
I will anyway. Teehee.
Beautifully juicy and ripe tomatoes get roasted with some aromatics and a dash of balsamic vinegar in the oven till all the flavours are gorgeously intensified and caramelised…mmm. The magical thing about living in Australia is that even though it is winter here in Sydney, it is still super warm up in the Northern states…so we get to enjoy some glorious summery produce even in the depths of winter, and it is still local!
God I love this country.
Meanwhile, you make a stunningly green and vibrant basil oil, which sounds fancy but really is NOT. All you do is blanch the basil leaves for literally 10 seconds in some boiling water, then drain them and whizz them in a blender with some olive oil and salt. You can then either strain this oil to remove the actual basil leaf pulp and just be left with the intensely basil-y oil or you can just skip this step and use it as it is…which is what I do.
This is actually one of the best ways to use up leftover basil and preserve it for weeks and weeks in your fridge, to be used on anything and everything (think pasta, eggs, soups, salads…go crazy).
For an element of crunch that emulates the pizza’s crust, I just LOVE these cheesy baked polenta chips. They are crispy and salty and golden and just what you need to dunk into your bowl of pizza soup (or any other soup really). I have decided to put the recipe for those in a separate post, with detailed steps and photos so that you can feel comfortable about tackling them and see just how simple they are to make. Find the tutorial HERE.
As a final touch, for even more pizza-ness (what?), I like to sprinkle the soup with a good shower of parmesan cheese. Mozzarella would work wonderfully too!
Cheesiness and crispy crustiness…check!
There you have it…pizza in a bowl.
How can that ever be a bad thing?
FOR MORE DELICIOUS RAMADAN RECIPES, CLICK HERE
- FOR THE SOUP:
- • 1.5kg very ripe tomatoes, quartered*
- • 2 onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
- • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated but left in their skins
- • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- • 1 tsp. sugar
- • olive oil
- • salt to taste
- • basil stalks (from the bunch of basil you will use to make the basil oil), optional
- • 750ml-1 litre water/stock (3-4 cups)
- FOR THE BSAIL OIL:
- • 1 tightly-packed cup basil leaves (reserve the stalks for the soup)
- • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- • ½ - ¾ tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350F)
- Place the tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil stalks in a large roasting pan in one even layer (or 2 if they won’t fit into one). Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Toss everything to coat, then spread out so that everything is in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, make the basil oil: prepare a bowl full of ice cold water, set aside near the stove. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil, then throw in the basil leaves all at once and remove them as soon as they wilt (no more than 10 seconds) with a slotted spoon and put them directly into the bowl of iced water. You just want to wilt them and preserve their green colour, so refreshing them in the cold water will stop them from cooking further and turning dark. Swirl them in the bowl for a few seconds till cooled, then take them out and use your hand to squeeze out as much water as you can from the leaves. Place the drained leaves in a blender with the oil and salt and blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning. You can use the oil as it is, or if you want to you can strain it through a sieve lined with kitchen paper to remove the basil pulp. Store in a jar in the fridge (it will last for weeks).
- When the tomatoes have finished roasting, remove and discard the basil stalks. Place the tomatoes and the onions in a blender. Squeeze out the garlic flesh from the skins (just hold each clove in between two fingers and press, they will be super soft and will squeeze out easily) into the blender as well. Add enough liquid (water or stock) to blend the mixture until completely smooth, adding more if needed. Do this over two batches if your blender isn’t big enough.
- Strain the soup through a sieve into a large pot, pressing down on the pulp to get as much out as possible. Bring to a simmer, adjust for seasoning and consistency (add more liquid if needed). Simmer for just 10 minutes then serve hot with the polenta chips, topped with the basil oil and a good sprinkle of parmesan/mozzarella cheese if you like.
Find the Baked Polenta Chips recipe here.