I like to make this dairy free, vegetarian soup when tomatoes are at their peak ripeness, end of summer. Look for large, meaty plum tomatoes, ideally. Caramelizing the tomato, fennel and shallot amplifies their sweetness, creating many layers of fantastic flavor. I like to serve this garnished with a slice of toasted baguette spread with creamy goat cheese
- 2TBS + 1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, peeled, trimmed and halved
- 8 Large plum tomatoes, trimmed and halved
- 1 Fennel Bulb, trimmed and cut into quarters, reserving the dark green leafy fronds, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled, trimmed and chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pre heat oven to 400°F
- Toss tomatoes, fennel and shallot with 2 TBS of oil and spread onto a non-stick sheet pan. Place tomatoes cut side up. Season liberally with salt and black pepper.
- Place pan in hot oven and cook for about 30 minutes, until vegetables start to sizzle and caramelize, looking browned. Remove pan from oven.
- While vegetables are cooking in the oven, heat remaining oil in a stock pot on medium heat. Sauté carrots sprinkled with 2 TBS of the reserved fennel fronds, stirring often for about 5 minutes until wilted and softened.
- Add the contents of the sheet pan, including all of the accumulated juices to the pot with the carrots. Add 4 cups of water, salt and pepper to taste to the pot.
- Simmer the pot on medium for 10 minutes, stirring often and taste for seasoning.
- Transfer contents of pot to a blender, carefully. You may have to do this in 2 or 3 batches; blend all ingredients very well and transfer mixture to a clean pot.
- Re-heat and serve immediately or allow to cool, refrigerating and serving the next day reheated.
Note: Be extra careful when blending hot ingredients in a blender to allow some hot air to escape while blending ingredients, by slightly moving lid to a side position or removing the center plastic part of the lid and covering with a towel so the ingredients don’t splatter. Neglecting this step can cause a hot explosion.
Black beans make a dramatic, dark colored dip that pops with flavor from lime, jalapeno and cilantro. Make this a day or two ahead of your party and bring to room temperature prior to serving
- 2-15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
- 1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled & chopped
- 1 small red onion, peeled and diced finely
- 1 small red pepper, seeded and diced finely
- Minced, seeded Jalapeno pepper, to taste (optional)
- 1 tsp cumin
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 TBS sherry vinegar
- 2 tsp Kosher salt to taste
- 2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- 2-3 TBS cold water
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium high heat. Sauté garlic, onion and pepper(s) with cumin, until translucent.
- Transfer sautéed vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade along with black beans, lime juice, sherry vinegar and salt. Process until smooth, tasting for seasoning.
- For a Summer, no cook version, add vegetables raw to beans before processing.
- Add water to thin and additional salt, if necessary.
- Transfer to a bowl, drizzle w/ oil and garnish with cilantro.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, with tortilla chips and/or crudités as a dip.