After a cold ride in the mountains, nothing warms the heart and soul like a bowl of hot soup and a sandwich. And here at mtbchick.com kitchen, we’ve turned into a bit of a soup kitchen– where we feed hungry mountain bikers.
The latest soup on the menu is the Roasted Tomato and Orange Bell Pepper Soup with Mushroom Panini. It is impossible to have only one bowl of this soup, and the panini is the perfect companion.
Here’s how we did it:
(takes about an hour, serves about 4)
10 Roma Tomatoes
2 Orange Bell Peppers
6 Cloves of Garlic (in their skin, you may roast the entire bulb at once as well)
2 sprigs Fresh Thyme, plus 1 for garnish
1 Vidalia Onion (any sweet onion, or any onion will do)
1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
4 cups Mushrooms (Shiitake a must, mix with Crimini and Portabella)
Sliced Fontina Cheese (thin slices=less fat!)
1 cup White Cooking Wine (2 buck Chuck Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice)
1 cup Vegetable Broth or Water
1.5 cups Cream (we use heavy cream)
8 Tablespoons of Butter
Sourdough Boule (or any choice of bread)
Redmond’s Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black or Rainbow Pepper
Roast your vegetables first. Place whole tomatoes, bell peppers and entire bulb of garlic into a Pyrex or other oven safe baking dish and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in 400F oven for 20-30 minutes. Skins of Peppers and tomatoes will just begin to brown. Use liner of aluminum foil for cleaning ease. (Do not cut or puncture the vegetables, and place the garlic in uncut as well. This preserves juices and flavors.)
Meanwhile, chop onion into small pieces, 1/4″ or so squares. Warm olive oil in soup pot on medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté for 15-25 minutes, until translucent.
Melt 2 tablespoon butter in Cast Iron Skillet (or similar). Thinly slice mushrooms. Lightly cook mushrooms in pan for 15 minutes or until tender, but not too shrunken!
When the onions are soft, turn up the heat and add the Blasamic Vinegar small bits at a time. You want the vinegar to melt into the onions, and then caramelize and the ends will become slightly crunchy in order to add some tooth to the soup.
Remove vegetables from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Once cool, remove the navels from the tomatoes, clean the bell peppers. The seeds will be easy to remove. If you prefer, you can remove the tomato seeds, however that is an unnecessary step. If you have a blender or food processor, liquify tomatoes and bell peppers. If you do not, mince as small as possible!
Remove 6 cloves of garlic from the bulb. They will be soft and will push right out of the skins! (voilà!) Press the cloves through a garlic press, or mince. The garlic press yields perfectly sized bits that homogenize into the soup well.
Add the tomatoes, peppers and garlic to the soup pot. Add the white wine and the vegetable broth or water. Turn the soup to boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Pull the leaves from the 2 Thyme sprigs and place in the soup. Now the soup will cook down, and cream will be added in the last 5 minutes, while the panini cook.
Pour yourself a glass of wine.
Place cream in a small stock pot on medium or medium-low heat and reduce by one half volume.
Slice your bread, place cheese on one slice of bread, add mushrooms then place second slice on top. Here you can bake the panini in the oven on 450F or you can heat them on a griddle with butter. 1 tablespoon of butter per side.
When the cream is reduced and the panini are ready, stir cream into soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Around 1 tablespoon of salt.
Garnish with Thyme and Cut panini in halves. Pairs nicely with a Pinot Noir or a cool region Cabernet Sauvignon.
Eat, eat, eat and be merry! (But ride your bike first!)