That's how I feel about the creamy tomato bisque at Cypriana's, a small little carry-out place at my job. I love this soup and I usually can't resist getting a small cup to go with a salad for lunch. A few months ago I asked Cypriana's manager if she could give me some basic idea as to the recipe to her soup and she was kind of enough to provide some vague answers.
Manager: "You know, first I cook my vegetables, then I make my roux, and I add a lot of garlic and heavy cream. I cook it for hours and really develop the flavor. Oh and I strain all of my soups!".
Me: "What vegetables?"
Manager: "Canned tomatoes, maybe some celery. You know!"
With this information (or lack of) I was determined to try and emulate her soup.
I'm sad to say, I have not. But I've come close. And it tastes pretty awesome. And even more exciting is I totally winged this. I don't know what the true definition of a bisque is, so this in fact, may not be one, but I'm going to call it bisque because that's what the restaurant calls it.
This recipe makes a lot of food. Certainly enough to feed a family of eight, and freeze the other half for another night. I filled up two 48-ounce Tupperware containers of it with the recipe.
Also, I know it's Hanukkah and this isn't relevant to the holiday at all. Hanukkah recipes and posts will come later! I'm experimenting with my own chocolate latkes recipe that so far, is going great.
Jax's Creamy Tomato Bisque
Inspired by the creamy tomato bisque at Cypriana's Cafe
Two large cans of whole plum tomatoes (28 ounces each can), slightly drained
3-4 large fresh tomatos, cut into large pieces
5 stalks celery, cut into pieces
1 medium yellow onion, cut into large pieces
1 head of garlic, each piece peeled
1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
1/4 cup AP flour
3 cups milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Method: You need to cook the vegetables first; you can either do this in a large pot or a crock pot. I used a crock pot, and cooked the canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, celery, onion and garlic on low for about 5 hours. The vegetables need to be tender but not mushy, and I wanted the flavors to come out through slow cooking. The other nice thing about the crock pot is as a busy mom, I don't want to sit over the stove for an hour waiting for vegetables to get tender. So while not necessary, I recommend this method.
Once the vegetables are done, strain them by ladling them into a fine strainer over a large bowl. Reserve the liquids in the bowl, and place the solids in a separate large pot OR a food processor. The next step is to puree the cooked vegetables, and I used a hand blender, so I put them into a large pot.
(By the way, if you love to make soup, a hand blender is a must-have item. I just got one a few months ago and it's up there with my iPhone in terms of its importance in my life).
In a separate large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk, and cook until the mixture is thick (about 10 minutes), constantly stirring. Add the pureed vegetables and stir to combine. Add the heavy cream, salt, and garlic powder. Go back to your reserved liquids and add some to taste. I added about 3 cups because I like a strong tomato flavor. If you add a lot of the liquids, it's best to keep cooking the soup for at least 10 more minutes to boil off some of the water while maintaining the tomato flavor.
Garnish with parsley if desired and enjoy.
P.S. Sorry my pictures always suck. I take them with my iPhone and pictures from my real digital camera are even worse. I swear my food tastes good.