Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Creamy Tomato and Basil Soup with Walnut Pesto and Goat Cheese Crouton

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If you are looking for a light soup recipe, the kind that will help you keep up with your new year’s resolutions, you might want to skip this post. This is definitely not a resolution-keeping, weight-loss, figure-friendly soup. However, if you are interest in a creamy, indulgent, rich soup that reminds you of the best soups you tried at restaurants….then read on.

This soup is so rich that it’s intended to be served in small portions, like an appetizer. It is creamy and delicious and just what I crave on those rainy and grey Seattle days.  The walnut pesto and the goat cheese croutons (which aren’t technically croutons) are a perfect compliment to the soup. The pesto lends a fresh and garlicky touch and the goat cheese crouton gives tang and texture. I like using coarse cornmeal to coat the goat cheese because it gives it a wonderful contrast of textures with the soft cheese.


Creamy tomato and basil soup with walnut pesto and  goat cheese crouton recipe:

makes 6 servings


You will need:


For the tomato and basil soup:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

3 cups of chopped tomatoes (use fresh when in season, otherwise use good quality canned)

3 cups of tomato juice

10 fresh basil leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

1 cup of half and half

4 tablespoons of butter


Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot and cook the onions and garlic until they soften, about 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato juice and simmer for 20 minutes, until soup thickens slightly.

Blend the soup along with the basil leaves, return soup to pot and season with salt and pepper. With the soup on low heat, add the half and half and the butter, stirring until it’s all combined and the butter is completely melted.


Spoon soup into small bowls, drizzle with the walnut pesto and top with a piece of goat cheese crouton.


For the walnut pesto:

makes 1/4 cup

1 packed cup of fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup of chopped walnuts

1 garlic clove

4 tablespoons of olive oil

4 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste


Pulse the basil, garlic  and the walnuts in a food processor. With the motor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil (use more or less until you get the desired consistency, I like my pesto loose and more on the liquid side). Pour pesto into a small bowl, stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep covered and refrigerated.


For the goat cheese croutons:

makes 6 “croutons”

1  log of goat cheese (8 inches)

1/4 cup of coarse corn meal

1/2 tablespoon of olive oil


Place the cheese in the freezer for 10 minutes. Spread the corn meal in a deep dish.  Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet. Slice the cheese into 6 rounds, coat each piece with cornmeal and shallow fry it in the oil until golden, about 2 minutes each side. Transfer to a paper towel to dry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Red Wine Tapioca Pudding with Vanilla Whipped Cream (sagu de vinho tinto com chantili de baunilha)

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This is my first post of the year, and I would like to start by wishing everyone that reads my little blog a Happy 2010. I didn’t mean to neglect this space for so long, but life has been just a little too crazy for me lately. Hopefully I am ready to start posting more often. I miss this place, I miss coming here, sharing recipes with you and reading your comments. The first recipe I post this year is an old fashion Brazilian recipe: red wine tapioca pudding.

Cooking tapioca in red wine (or grape juice for kids) is a very common practice in Brazil. This is not your usual tapioca pudding, it tastes less sweet and it’s not as rich as the ones cooked with milk or cream. I like to make some fresh whipped cream to top the tapioca pudding and vanilla is one of my favourite flavours. Use the larger tapioca pearls if you can find them. A full-bodied wine works best for this recipe, but you may use grape juice if you want to avoid the alcohol.

Red Wine Tapioca Pudding with Vanilla Whipped Cream Recipe:

makes about 1 quart

You will need:


For the tapioca pudding:

2 cups of tapioca pearls

3 cups of water

1 bottle of red wine (Zinfandel or Cabernet)

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 cinnamon stick

10 cloves


For the vanilla whipped cream:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream, chilled

2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract


Make the tapioca pudding:

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add the tapioca pearls. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring often. While the tapioca cooks, use another pot to heat the wine, 1/2 cup of sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain wine mixture into the pot with the tapioca and continue simmering until the pearls are translucent. At this point, if you thing the Add the rest of the sugar (1 cup) and remove from heat. Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.


Make the vanilla whipped cream:


Beat the cream and the sugar until soft peaks form, add the vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Spoon the chilled tapioca pudding into cups or bowls, top with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream and serve immediately.