Cream of Tomato Soup with Green Chilies and Cilantro Pesto

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 6 stalks celery, chopped
• 1 leek, chopped (white part only)
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1kg tomatoes, chopped
• 2 cups vegetable  stock
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
• 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
• 3 bay leaves
• 3 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 4 tablespoons flour
• 4 bhavnagri  chiles, roasted,peeled,seeded and diced
• 2 tomatoes, peeled,seeded and diced (I usually don’t bother peelling tomatoes)
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• salt
• white pepper

For the Cilantro Pesto
• 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
• 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 5 teaspoons lemon juice
• 5 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Total Time: 1 3/4 hrs
1. 1 Heat oil in saucepan. Add celery, leek and onion, chopped garlic  and cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
2. 2 Add next 7 ingredients (tomatoes- marjoram) and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Strain soup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, discard solids.
4. In same saucepan as used to make tomato soup, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk for about 10 minutes.
5. Whisk in soup and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until thickened.
6. Add chilies, tomatoes, 2 tablespoons pesto, sugar, salt and pepper.
7. To make pesto: MIx all pesto ingredients (cilantro- salt) together in a food processor for 2 minutes until smooth. Store in jar in refrigerator (can be kept in refrigerator for 2 weeks or frozen).

(Courtesy : Executive Chef Aman Tandon at ThePrideHotels Ahmedabad)

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